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BJP open to Delhi bid

New Delhi, July 4: The BJP today offered to explore an alternative government in Delhi, a matter the Supreme Court left to the lieutenant governor while referring to a Constitution bench the larger question arising out of an Aam Aadmi Party petition.

A five-judge Constitution bench will go into whether, in the light of the anti-defection law, an Assembly can be kept under suspended animation if it’s clear that no party can form a government without engineering defections.

The Aam Aadmi Party had in February challenged Delhi lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung’s decision not to dissolve the Assembly and call fresh polls but keep it under suspended animation and recommend President’s rule. It argued this was done to facilitate defections.

But while referring the larger question to a five-judge bench, the bench of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha and Justices Madan B. Lokur and Kurien Joseph have left Jung free to take any decision in Delhi.

At today’s hearing, BJP counsel Ashok Desai said the party was willing to explore the possibilities of forming an alternative government — he did not explain how — if Jung invited it to. He opposed the Aam Aadmi Party plea to dissolve the Assembly.

“It’s not a situation where everything is over. We have already entered into an era of coalition politics. The country cannot have frequent elections,” he told the court. “We are waiting for the lieutenant governor to call us so that we can consider the issue.”

Senior counsel Fali Nariman, appearing for the petitioner, said the lieutenant governor must dissolve the Assembly and order fresh elections. Nariman alleged “some middlemen” had tried to engineer defections from the Aam Aadmi Party.

But Desai told the court the Aam Aadmi Party was frequently changing its opinion and recalled its alleged bid to form a government after the BJP won the general election.

The House has a total strength of 70. When central rule was imposed, the BJP and ally Akali Dal had 32 members — a number that has fallen to 29 after three BJP members won the Lok Sabha election.

The Aam Aadmi Party’s tally has fallen from 28 to 27 after it expelled Vinod Kumar Binny. The Congress has eight, the Janata Dal (United) one and there’s an Independent.