New Delhi, Dec 22 IANS | 1 year ago

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal is set to meet Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung here Monday amid clear signs that his party is preparing to take power in Delhi with Congress support.


After five days of a virtual referendum on whether or not AAP should form a minority government, there were enough indications - but no announcement - that the one-year-old AAP was ready for the plunge.

Officially, senior AAP leader Manish Sisodia, who could become a minister if Kejriwal forms a government, told IANS that the final decision would be taken only Monday morning.

"I can't say now if we will indeed form a government," he said late Sunday. "We still need to hold a few meetings. The final decision will be taken only tomorrow."

Kejriwal said earlier Sunday that "a major announcement" would be made Monday. The party said the activist-turned-politician would meet the media Monday morning, before meeting Jung.

As the party's campaign to elicit a 'yes' or 'no' from people in the capital on government formation entered its final phase, the AAP said that most voters favoured an AAP government.

"Majority of the feedback we have received is 'yes'," spokesperson Ashwathi Muralidharan told IANS.

The party has got responses from over 6.5 lakh people through SMS, interactive voice response (IVR), Facebook and the AAP web site, she said.

Separately, AAP held public meetings in some 270 municipal wards across Delhi where too most people rooted for an AAP government by raising their hands, party leaders said.

A former Indian Revenue Service officer whose social activism won him the Ramon Magsaysay award, Kejriwal indicated that his party was readying to take power with Congress backing.

He denied that the promises made by his party -- providing 700 litres of water daily to homes and sharply cutting power tariff among others -- were utopian in nature.

"We will deliver whatever assurances we made in our manifesto. It (manifesto) was prepared after wide consultations, and a lot of thought went into it," he told the media.

"Moreover, the people of Delhi are expecting much more from us, and we will perform."

Later in the evening, Kejriwal told a public meeting in Sarojini Nagar in south Delhi that his party will keep "returning to the people" on major issues -- even after forming a government.

"This is democracy, this is real democracy," he said, denying criticism that the AAP decision to seek a referendum on whether or not to take power was "nautanki" (drama).

But AAP leaders made it clear that there would be no alliance with the Congress, which has only eight seats in the 70-member Delhi assembly but which, after being ousted from power, agreed to prop up a government of AAP (28 seats) in order to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) away.

The BJP, which finished as the largest group with 31 seats, decided not to form a government after falling short of the half-way mark by five.

The BJP's 'no' led the Lt. Governor to invite the AAP to try form a government. Kejriwal then said he was in a moral dilemma on whether or not to take power with Congress help.

So he decided to seek the views of the people in the capital, a move which again Sunday came under criticism from the BJP.

BJP leader Arun Jaitley said on Facebook: "The AAP had categorically stated that it represents alternative politics. It is guided by idealism. It will neither support nor accept support from either the Congress or BJP.

"Obviously, if the AAP stands by its publicly stated commitment, the Delhi assembly becomes a deadlocked assembly wherein after a reasonable time a fresh poll has to be ordered.

"How does the AAP justify a volte-face where it seems to be compromising on its commitment of alternative politics?"

The AAP's 'yes' or 'no' campaign, announced Dec 17, ends Sunday midnight.

The AAP initially said it would prefer to sit in the opposition. It reconsidered its stand after accusations that it had developed cold feet over fulfilling many of its election promises.

(Posted on 22-12-2013)