Outfoxing the foxes at their own game
After the Delhi elections, the BJP with 32 seats was clearly within striking distance of forming a government. The Congress party, with 8 seats, was completely battered and in no position to stake a claim. The AAP stood at second place with 28 seats. No sooner had the results been announced, the two major parties began their political posturing while the AAP stuck to its pre-election stand of, “We will neither take nor give support to either the Congress or the BJP.”
With 32 seats, the BJP was the natural choice to form the government. Unfortunately for the BJP, they decided to not take the support of the Congress or the AAP. In fact, it appears that they chose not to even explore those possibilities. At the same time, not wanting to be seen as a “wheeling-dealing” party despite its poor track record on this front in states like Karnataka, the BJP decided to take the moral high ground and turned down the offer to form the government.
The Congress party went a step further than the BJP by first saying it would provide “unconditional support” and later waffling on the true meaning of the word “unconditional.” The AAP, in a clever move, involved the people in the decision-making process by going in for an unprecedented referendum. With the people behind them, the AAP clearly had the wind in its sails. It decided to form the government with the “outside support” of the Congress party.
There have been voices of disagreement from within the Congress ranks about it decision to support the AAP. It appears that the Congress is now terrified that they can’t easily withdraw support because, unlike in the past, where support of this nature was discussed behind closed doors (often with cash enticements), now “everything is in the open.” Any attempt to play politics as usual and topple the AAP government in the short-term could show them in very poor light and ruin whatever little chances they might have in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. At present, the Congress’s best hope is that the AAP makes a false move after coming to power, so they can use that as an excuse to pull the rug from under the AAP government. In short, the Congress party has boxed itself into a corner with no good options.
Once the BJP decided not to form the government in Delhi, it started egging the AAP by saying, “We will provide constructive support, the AAP is running away from their responsibility of forming a government, etc.” However, after the AAP decided to form the government, the BJP started to claim that the AAP was hand-in-glove with the Congress. By first criticizing the AAP for not forming the government, and later criticizing the AAP for accepting the support of the Congress, the BJP in Delhi has shown muddled political thinking. It should come as no surprise that they are left exactly where they have been for the last 15 years – warming the opposition benches. The second prize winner, the AAP, instead walked away with ultimate prize of forming the government.