Suspense mounts over possibility of President's rule in Delhi

The BJP is treading carefully on the matter


The suspense over whether President’s rule will be imposed in Delhi is getting deeper by the day.

Delhi Education Minister Atishi, on Friday, said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is “hatching a plot to impose President's rule in the national capital.”

Senior AAP leader Dilip Pandey accused the BJP of trying to create the perception of a Constitutional crisis in Delhi to fulfil their aim of President’s rule.

The worry for AAP follows three setbacks to the ruling party in the national capital —denial of bail to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal by the Delhi High Court, resignation of Delhi minister Raaj Kumar Anand citing dissatisfaction over party's policy on corruption, and the sacking of Kejriwal's personal assistant (PA) Bibhav Kumar by the Directorate of Vigilance in connection with a 2007 case pending against him where he was accused of obstructing government work.

Clearly, these developments have put AAP on the back foot—legally and politically—at the moment.

The recent setbacks came after the party got a shot in the arm with senior leader Sanjay Singh getting bail in the Delhi excise policy case, providing the much-needed enthusiasm to the cadres. His first remarks after coming out of prison were “Jail ke taale tootenge”. The party has also been rallying around him since his release. He has become central to the party's political posturing ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The second-rung leaders of the AAP also appear more confident in his presence.

However, the party is going to need much more than that in the coming days to manage political challenges.

The AAP’s strategy has been to target the BJP for autocratically trying to finish the AAP and Kejriwal and garner sympathy votes. They have adopted an “action and reaction” approach.

Even as AAP prepares for the battle ahead, experts are of the view that the call to impose the President's rule is not an easy one to take.

Abhay Dubey, professor, Centre for Study of Developing Societies, said, “Once you come to power by imposing the President's rule, you will have to govern the city. The task is far greater than creating hurdles in governance which is happening presently.” “In 2015 Vidhan Sabha elections, Delhi was under LG's rule and it adversely affected the BJP in the elections.”

Dubey said with the Delhi chief minister not resigning from the prison and the AAP not giving in, “the ball is now in the BJP's court.”

The BJP also knows this. This is the reason why they are treading carefully on the matter. “They are treading the path very carefully to make sure that if President's rule is imposed they will have all grounds covered, especially in view of the sympathy factor that Kejriwal's arrest has brought into the picture,” said a source. “Besides, AAP has been in power for the past 9 years. In such a span of time, one tends to make deep inroads into the administrative machinery. The sacking of Kejriwal's PA is also important from this standpoint. In such a scenario it will not be easy to govern, especially with general elections just around the corner.”

The Supreme Court is expected to hear Arvind Kejriwal's plea for release from jail on Monday. Much will depend on the outcome of the apex court's decision.

If Kejriwal remains in prison, it will become increasingly and strategically crucial for the BJP “to take a political decision on whether they want to impose the President's rule or not.” For now, both the AAP and the BJP are busy taking the battle to the streets.

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