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Sonia shuts out AAP

New Delhi, June 17: Sonia Gandhi has rejected the idea of propping up an Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi, convinced now that the nascent political outfit was hurting the Congress more than any other party.

Sources revealed that the AAP was desperate to form the government and had sent feelers to the Congress, triggering a debate within the party on the desirability of extending support to Arvind Kejriwal to block the BJP.

But Sonia ruled this out despite the threat of poaching of Congress MLAs both by the AAP and the BJP.

The Congress has eight MLAs but most are seniors who are unlikely to defect. Party leaders discount the possibility of a split, arguing that the AAP would split instead.

The BJP has 32 MLAs and needs four more to cross the majority mark. While one Independent will easily join the BJP camp, sources said three-four AAP MLAs are itching to change sides. Even if they do not join the BJP, they can help it survive the floor test.

The Congress will not try to disturb the BJP government for a while as the summer of discontent has just begun in Delhi. The party hopes to regain lost ground in a couple of months if the Narendra Modi government fails to deliver on its promises, particularly on controlling inflation and improving power supply.

Minister staff

The Congress today described as “unfortunate” the alleged denial of freedom to cabinet ministers to choose their staff, arguing that such a concentration of power in the Prime Minister’s Office was not good for democracy.

In response to a question about the PMO’s alleged intervention in the selection of personal secretaries for ministers, party spokesperson Ajay Maken said: “It is unfortunate. Narendra Modi appointed his principal secretary (Nripendra Mishra) through an ordinance and is denying senior ministers the right to choose their officials.”

Maken added: “We have nothing against Mishra as principal secretary as he is an upright officer. But the ordinance on his appointment was not cleared by the cabinet. Modi did this using the express powers available to the Prime Minister. The officials who work with ministers do not have political affiliations. Even Mishra was appointed TRAI chief by the Congress government.”

The Congress leader also attacked the government for claiming that bitter pills were needed to revive the economy, arguing that the UPA left the economy in a very healthy condition