Congress got thrashed in the Delhi state elections. It got 8 seats (-35), while BJP and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won 32 and 28 seats respectively leading to a hung assembly. With BJP declining to form the govt. and AAP’s well known stance of not taking support from Congress / BJP, state was heading towards President’s rule.
Congress had the following 3 options:
1. Keep mum & rule through back door via President’s rule, ultimately culminating into Re-elections: This would have provided only a temporary reprieve. In re-elections, chances of Congress further decimating would be high.
2. Support BJP to form govt.: Congress and BJP are 2 principal opposition parties in India and doing this was next to impossible.
3. Support AAP to form govt.: AAP campaigned extensively against Congress rule and dubbed it as a corrupt party. Kejriwal even defeated 3 time Congress CM Shiela Dixit. AAP leaders continuously abused Congress state and national leaders. This option also seemed to be impractical. Running out of options Congress national leadership decided to go with this strategy against state leadership wish. They were so desperate that Congress sent its support letter for AAP to Lt. Governor even without AAP asking for the same.
So why Congress decided to support AAP?
Congress lost the assembly elections to the 3 states Rajasthan, Chhattisargh and Madhya Pradesh badly to BJP. Plus BJP emerged as the single largest party in Delhi. Though Congress won Mizoram, it has no significant impact on national politics as it sends only 1 MP to Lok Sabha. So technically the score was 4-0 (excluding Mizoram). Rahul and Sonia wanted to avoid this scorecard at any cost. Even at the cost of self-respect of its local leadership in Delhi. So went ahead with the support letter. Sandeep Dixit (Rahul’s friend) was able to convince his Mamma (Shiela). 3-1 looks better.
Plus this could also help boost image of Congress (especially after taking credit for Lokpal). People would see it as party supporting a clean image / anti-corruption crusader Kejriwal. Congress leadership assumes people are fools. Anyways!
Though far fetched, Congress also thinks that they could prop Kejriwal vs Modi in next Lok Sabha elections. Sonia knows Rahul is no match for Modi. Plus Kejriwal is a better name than Nilekani.
Some people also believe that there was a secret understanding between AAP and Congress before the elections and AAP is actually the B team of Congress. Hence this support. I don’t believe this.
Feel Congress is playing with fire
If Congress strategists feel they have won the battle against BJP in Delhi, they are in for a rude shock. There are 2 possibilities for AAP’s govt:
1. Kejriwal lasts full term of 5 years: Highly unlikely. This could only happen if Congress-AAP actually forge an alliance to take on Modi in 2014.
2. Kejriwal doesn’t last the full term leading to re-elections: This could happen due to Congress pulling the plug or Kejriwal himself resigning after getting frustrated due to constant Congress non co-operation. In both these cases, sympathy will be with AAP. Timing of re-elections will also impact Congress fortunes. If re-elections happen before Lok Sabha, together with Lok Sabha or after Lok Sabha, Congress will get lesser seats than it got this time.
(i) If before Lok Sabha, AAP will be able to maintain its momentum and will not be impacted even if it is not able to deliver on its promises. It will put the blame squarely on Congress for non-performance and paint it is villain.
(ii) If together with Lok Sabha, Modimania will hit Congress prospects. National issues and local issues will get mixed and Congress will pay heavily for anti-incumbency at national level.
(iii) If after Lok Sabha, the possibility of anti-Congress govt. coming to power at center is high. Thus Congress will again bite the dust.
So all-in-all Congress is doomed in Delhi, whatever happens in the future. Only way Congress can emerge winner is if it is able to forge a national alliance with AAP / Kejriwal for Lok Sabha. Will Kejriwal risk his image and go with Congress to stop so-called communal forces like BJP? Will cover this in another post.