Congress leaders likely to meet Kharge, Rahul to take call on backing AAP

AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal has been visiting various States to seek Opposition support; his past attacks on the Congress could have a bearing on whether party supports him on ordinance issue

May 28, 2023 01:24 am | Updated 08:17 am IST - New Delhi

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and senior leader Rahul Gandhi at Shantivan paying tribute to former Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru on his death anniversary on Saturday.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and senior leader Rahul Gandhi at Shantivan paying tribute to former Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru on his death anniversary on Saturday. | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

Leaders from the Delhi and Punjab units of the Congress on Saturday said a meeting with party president Mallikarjun Kharge and senior leader Rahul Gandhi will likely take place on Monday to take a final call on supporting the Aam Aadmi Party on the Delhi ordinance issue.

The development comes a day after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said he had sought time to meet Mr. Kharge and Mr. Gandhi to seek the Congress’ support in Parliament as well as to discuss the “assault on the federal structure and prevailing political situation”.

Past acrimony

However, the AAP chief’s past attacks on the Congress — including calling for the arrest of its former president Sonia Gandhi — may be a determining factor in the party’s decision.

The Central government’s May 19 ordinance negates the Supreme Court verdict on the Delhi Services issue and gives the Lieutenant-Governor control over bureaucrats in the city. Mr. Kejriwal has been travelling across the country, seeking support from Opposition leaders to stall the Bill from replacing the ordinance in the Rajya Sabha. The SC’s May 11 order gave the elected government the power over Delhi’s bureaucracy.

The AAP chief had called it a “semi-final” before the 2024 general elections to defeat the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. So far, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Telangana CM K. Chandrashekar Rao, Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar have assured him of support.

The Congress’ backing, however, faces hurdles as its leaders have been vocal against AAP, which is in power in Delhi and Punjab. Sharing a video that showed Mr. Kejriwal calling for Ms. Gandhi’s arrest, Delhi Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit had recently said, “Can we forget those poisonous lies and foul language? Nothing is bigger than self-respect.”

Also read | AAP, Congress at loggerheads over services ordinance issue

In the video, Mr. Kejriwal was heard saying, “Shut down the CBI, the Enforcement Directorate and other agencies if you cannot investigate. Arrest Sonia Gandhi and interrogate her for two days and you will get to know who all have taken bribes.”

Senior Congress leader Ajay Maken and AAP Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj had also recently accused each other of lying to the public about the constitutional provisions that govern Delhi and how former Chief Ministers have dealt with the Centre in the past.

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