NEW DELHI: Amid AAP efforts to mobilise opposition parties against Modi government’s ordinance to neutralise the Supreme Court verdict that gave the Delhi government control over the capital city’s bureaucracy, Congress on Monday reiterated its support for the court judgment, but stopped short of spelling out its stance in favour of the Arvind Kejriwal-led party. It said the party will consult like-minded allies and state units before making a decision.
AICC general secretary KC Venugopal tweeted: “Congress has not taken any decision on the issue of the ordinance. It will consult its state units and other like-minded parties on the same. The party believes in the rule of law and, at the same time, does not condone unnecessary confrontation, political witch-hunt and campaigns based on lies against political opponents by any political party.” The remark appeared to suggest an open mind on backing AAP, but also sounded critical of its actions.
AAP MP Sanjay Singh said, “This is the time of agnipariksha (trial by fire)… Congress will have to decide if it stands with democracy, the Indian federal structure, or stands against it.”
If Congress is playing hard ball, it tallies with the sentiment of the party rank and file, which is opposed to siding with AAP. The point has been made by Delhi Congress leaders Ajay Maken and Sandeep Dikshit in recent days, which explains the announcement about “consulting state units”. Crucially, the issue figured in the deliberations between Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, with Rahul Gandhi also present, on Monday.
Oppn talks of a united front go beyond ordinance issue
The in-office NDA does not have a majority in the Upper House and would be dependent on assistance from YRSCP and BJD for the passage of the legislation in the monsoon session.
The NDA currently has a strength of 110 in Rajya Sabha and it can add a couple of more by filling the two vacancies of nominated members. Even then, it will still be eight short of the majority mark in the House with an effective strength of 238.
AICC spokesman Anand Sharma said, “Congress had welcomed the SC judgment delivered last week. Our stand remains the same, that the SC decision was correct.” He called it a strange contradiction that the government first brought an ordinance but is also filing a review petition in the court.
The opposition talks of a united front go beyond the ordinance issue. Congress said it will announce in a day or two the plan for a meeting of the heads of like-minded parties to take forward the issue of a united front for 2024 elections. Earlier, Kumar had hinted that he would convene the meeting in Patna. This was second meeting between Kumar and Kharge-Rahul in last two months.
We support Arvind Kejriwal, and whole opposition must come together says Nitish Kumar
“The country will be united now. The strengthening of democracy is our message. Rahul Gandhi and I discussed the current political situation with Bihar CM today and took forward the process of giving a new direction to the country,” Kharge tweeted.
In the discussions, Kumar pushed for early convening of the conclave to take advantage of the current momentum, and sources said it may happen before Rahul Gandhi’s departure for the US for a political outreach programme.
AAP’s hopes of getting the ordinance rejected in the Upper House are critically dependent on Congress, which has 31 MPs.
While Congress nurses strong resentment against Kejriwal for tarring it as corrupt, AAP has pitched the issue as one with consequence for federalism.
“This is the time of agnipariksha (trial by fire). What is BJP doing? It is saying that first I will get you arrested through CBI, ED, and then bring an ordinance if there is a decision in your favour. Congress will have to decide if it stands with democracy, the Indian federal structure or stands against it. Until an official statement from Congress, I cannot say anything on their stand,” AAP MP Sanjay Singh said.