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BJP rethink on Delhi reins

New Delhi, Feb. 15: The BJP today indicated it was not against forming a government in Delhi if the numbers “added up on their own”, with sources making it clear they wouldn’t do anything “audacious” before the upcoming national elections.

While it hinted at a subtle change in strategy since December, when the party decided to sit in the Opposition, it also meant the BJP would keep off “horse-trading”.

In other words, no spiriting away MLAs from other parties as it had done in Karnataka in 2008 when it had fallen a little short of the majority.

With the Union cabinet accepting the recommendation of lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung that the Assembly be placed in suspended animation, the BJP’s calculations were based on certain factors and circumstances, sources said.

The BJP camp has 32 legislators, four short of the majority mark of 36 in the 70-member House. But if Independents and MLAs of other parties “willingly” come over in sufficient numbers, the BJP, as the single largest bloc, could have a shot at forming the government, the sources said.

The party appeared to have deliberately tempered its ambitions with the “willing” clause because apart from Karnataka it had suffered in Uttar Pradesh in 1997 when it swung the necessary numbers from other parties, notably the BSP and the Congress, to keep its government in Lucknow. “We won the vote of confidence, but lost our credibility for time to come,” a state leader admitted.

In any case, the BJP, party insiders made it clear, wouldn’t do anything “audacious” before the Lok Sabha election lest it gave opponents, notably Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, the chance to accuse it of “immorality”.

Delhi BJP leader Harsh Vardhan, who briefed the media today, was asked what he would do if the lieutenant governor invited the party again to form the government. “We will discuss and decide in consultation with senior leaders. Right now, your question is hypothetical,” Harsh Vardhan, who had been projected as the party’s candidate for chief minister in the lead-up to last year’s election, said.

Left on AAP

The Left today appeared to sympathise with Kejriwal and slam the Congress and the BJP for ganging up to defeat the anti-corruption Jan Lokpal bill.