BJP leaders eye secret-ballot route to form govt in Delhi

Supreme Court to decide fate of House on September 9

BJP leaders eye  secret-ballot route to form govt in Delhi

The possibility of government formation in Delhi seems high in the coming days, as a few BJP leaders are hoping to get the Supreme Court’s nod to elect the leader of the Assembly through a secret ballot in the hung House, as was done in Uttar Pradesh in 1998.

On September 9, the apex court will take up for hearing the Aam Aadmi Party’s petition seeking dissolution of the Assembly, and the fate of the House is likely to be decided in court.

A BJP leader said if during the hearing the court asks the saffron party about its views on the political situation, “we are going to cite the example of the court-ordered secret ballot in 1998 in Uttar Pradesh’s hung Assembly”.

“The BJP will present its view in court. It will be independent of what the Central government may have to say,” said a senior Delhi BJP leader.

Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay said, “The people should get an elected government at the earliest. All ethical means should be explored in public interest,” he said, adding that his team was ready for fresh elections if the President decided to dissolve the House.

Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung recently said he was not in favour of enforcing a third election on Delhiites within a year—after the December 2013 Assembly polls and the Lok Sabha elections in April.

Former Delhi Assembly secretary S K Sharma said there is a provision under Section 9(2) of the National Capital Territory Act, 1991, which allows the lieutenant governor to “send a message to the House and ask the legislators to choose their own leader”.

"The election will not be part of the proceedings of the House, and there will be no need for parties to issue a whip. The speaker can ascertain the sense of the legislators by keeping a ballot box in his chamber, and call the legislators to vote in groups of three-four MLAs,” said Sharma.

The outcome of a secret ballot is final, and there is also no need for the “chief minister-elect” to prove his majority on the floor of the House within three days of his election—as is usually done if a party is invited to form government by the lieutenant governor, he said.

Delhi has been under President’s Rule since February 17, after Arvind Kejriwal quit as chief minister. The BJP has the support of 29 MLAs, the AAP has 27 legislators, the Congress has eight lawmakers and there are three others. Three seats are vacant in the 70-member House.

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