As parties huddle, Modi Govt clears decks by dissolving Delhi Assembly

| | New Delhi

Paving the way for fresh elections after an eight month-long flux, the Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved the recommendations of Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung to dissolve the Delhi Assembly and hold fresh polls in the State. The Union Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, discussed the report of Jung on Delhi’s political situation. The Cabinet has recommended dissolution of Delhi Assembly to President Pranab Mukherjee.

After the Cabinet decision, the Election Commission of India will withdraw the notification of byelections for three seats and announce the date after consultation with Chief Electoral Officer Vijay Dev. This is the first time in the Capital’s political history that Assembly polls will be held in a State in such a short span. Earlier, Bihar had gone to polls in February 2005 and again in October 2005.

The BJP, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress — the three main parties in the national Capital — went into a huddle on Tuesday to prepare for the polls, likely to be held by January or February next year. Both AAP and Congress are rooting for elections in Delhi along with the five-phased elections in Jharkhand and Jammu & Kashmir later this month. The BJP, which emerged as the single-largest party but fell short of a simple majority in December last year, is hoping for the Modi magic to help it win the “battle of Delhi” now.

The AAP, which made a historical debut in the last Assembly elections with party convener Arvind Kejriwal leading the Government for 49 days before resigning in February, held a meeting of its senior leaders to discuss their strategy of winning the national Capital back. Kejriwal, who later lost the Lok Sabha elections in Varanasi to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has repeatedly said that he made a “mistake” by quitting.

The Delhi Assembly has been under suspended animation since February. It is mandatory to hold fresh elections within six months of the dissolution of the Assembly. Technically, the House will have to be dissolved by November 10, the last date for the withdrawal of the nominations for the byelections. There are indications that the Election Commission may notify fresh polls by mid-February and till then the city would continue to remain under the President’s Rule.

The BJP too, is preparing a strategy to ensure that AAP is not able to spread its wings further in the fresh elections. The AAP had won 28 of the 70 seats in the Assembly poll. “At that time, the Muslims had not voted for AAP. But in the Lok Sabha polls, the majority of the Muslims voted for AAP,” a local BJP leader said. “We are keeping all these things in mind while planning our strategy for the fresh elections.”

The major thrust of the BJP, the AAP and the Congress would be to ensure that each party will get a clear cut majority to form the Government.In the present Assembly, not a single party had an absolute majority as a result of which Congress-backed AAP Government could survive only for 49 days, following which the city was placed under President’s Rule.



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