Patna Opposition meet: Why AAP threatened boycott, crying for Congress support on ordinance
Kejriwal knows if the Congress, having 31 MPs in the Rajya Sabha, decides to play neutral or stay away from voting on the ordinance, he cannot defeat it
The AAP will walk out of Friday's meeting of opposition leaders in Patna if the Congress does not promise its support against the Centre’s ordinance on the control of administrative services in Delhi, the AAP said on Thursday.
A day before, on Wednesday, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal shot off a letter to top Opposition leaders asking them to take up the Delhi ordinance issue first on the agenda at the joint meeting.
Many wondered why Kejriwal, who came to power in Delhi by trouncing the Congress is so keen on forging a bond with the arch-rival.
The answer lies in the upper house of the parliament, the Rajya Sabha.
Despite losing its strength in the lower house of the parliament, the Congress still has 31 MPs in its kitty in the Rajya Sabha. Kejriwal’s hectic lobbying against the ordnance will not fructify if Congress does not support him.
Defeating the Bill (which is likely to be tabled in the coming Monsoon session) without the support of the Congress is almost impossible as the BJP-led NDA has the support of 109 MPs in the Rajya Sabha out of the current strength of 238 of the Upper House.
Given the political rivalry and pressure from Delhi’s leadership, if Congress decides to abstain from voting in the Rajya Sabha, the strength of those supporting it will cross the halfway mark quite easily.
Moreover, neither Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge nor Rahul Gandhi has agreed to give an audience to Kejriwal or his team over the ordnance so far. The Congress's non-committal approach over the ordnance has increased Kejriwal’s anxiety, say political watchers.
Keeping the importance of the Congress vote inside the Rajya Sabha in mind, Kejriwal is trying his best to bend the grand old party.
Kejriwal knows that even if the Congress decides to play neutral, the effective strength of the house will be reduced to 207 and the BJP-led NDA will require only a total of 104 votes to get the Bill passed. The NDA currently has the support of 109 MPs.
To defeat the Bill, Kejriwal needs the support of more than 109 MPs in Rajya Sabha. He could garner the support of almost 70 MPs so far, despite putting his best.
Apart from AAP’s 10 MPs, Kejriwal has garnered the support of 12 MPs from Trinamool Congress (TMC), 10 MPs of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), 7 from Bharatiya Rashtra Samiti (BRS), 6 from Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), 6 from CPI (M), 5 from Janata Dal (United), 4 from Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), 3 from Uddhav Thakre-led Shiv Sena, 3 of Samajwadi Party, 2 from Communist Party of India (CPI), 2 from Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and a few parties like Indian Union Muslim League and Rashtriya Lok Dal with one member each can stand with Arvind Kejriwal.
To defeat the Bill in Rajya Sabha, Kejriwal will have to convince either Biju Janata Dal (BJD) or YSRCP to vote against the Bill as both have 9 MPs each in Rajya Sabha.
With the Congress and BJD or YSRCP or BJD and YSRCP both on his side, Kejriwal can defeat the Bill but, as of now, it appears to be next to impossible to bring all these parties in one fold.