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Vishwas claim betrays AAP nerves

Kumar Vishwas

New Delhi, Aug. 30: Aam Aadmi Party leader Kumar Vishwas today said the BJP had offered him the Delhi chief minister’s post to defect, the claim coming a day after his colleague Yogendra Yadav charged the BJP with trying to form a government in Delhi through the back door.

The twin incidents, combined with the AAP’s ongoing public campaign to press for fresh elections in Delhi, are being seen as part of Arvind Kejriwal’s desperate effort to thwart any attempt by the BJP to form a government.

The AAP leadership fears that if the BJP forms the government, the already demoralised party could even disintegrate. Already, fissures have developed among many key AAP leaders and the energy levels of volunteers have ebbed.

Vishwas has claimed that a newly elected BJP MP came to his house on May 19 and offered him the chief minister’s post if he agreed to help the BJP form a government in Delhi, but that he refused. Vishwas did not name the MP but other AAP leaders said it was Manoj Tiwari, the actor who won from northeast Delhi.

Vishwas is not even an MLA from Delhi. He had sought to challenge Rahul Gandhi from Amethi and lost badly. He is not known to command the kind of influence needed to get a chunk of the 27 AAP MLAs to back him.

Manoj Tiwari rubbished the claim. “What is my standing in the party to make such an offer? This is a publicity stunt,” said Tiwari who had joined the BJP just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Others in the BJP mocked Vishwas, saying the poet was taking himself too seriously as a politician. “Some MP might be making fun of him and he took it seriously,” said a senior Delhi BJP leader.

“Vishwas’s claim should be seen more as entertainment value than political value,” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said.

The Delhi Assembly is under suspended animation after Kejriwal resigned as chief minister in February. No party has a clear majority in the 70-member Delhi Assembly. The BJP, the single largest party, has so far not offered to form the government.

The BJP lacks a clear view about what to do in Delhi. One section is in favour of going for elections. But another wants to attempt government formation, arguing that the AAP remains a strong force in Delhi and the BJP might not be able to win a majority in a fresh election. Too many aspirants for the chief minister’s post have made matters more difficult for the party.

“The BJP does not have the numbers to form the government. But at the same time if the Lt governor invites us to form the government, we will explore the possibility,” Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay said yesterday.

The comment came in the wake of allegations by senior AAP leader Yogendra Yadav that the BJP was trying to form a government through the back door. Yadav urged Lt governor Najeeb Jung not to allow the BJP to resort to unconstitutional measures to form a government.