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Business News/ Politics / Policy/  Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP govt wins Delhi assembly trust vote
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Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP govt wins Delhi assembly trust vote

Congress says it can support the government for five years if AAP works for the interest of the people

The motion of confidence was passed by the Delhi assembly with the support of the Congress party, Janata Dal (United), or JD(U), and an independent after chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s reply to a four-and-a-half-hour debate. Photo: PTIPremium
The motion of confidence was passed by the Delhi assembly with the support of the Congress party, Janata Dal (United), or JD(U), and an independent after chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s reply to a four-and-a-half-hour debate. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: The minority Delhi government, led by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), on Thursday won the trust vote in the legislative assembly with Congress support, passing its first test since assuming office five days ago.

The motion of confidence was passed by the House with the support of the Congress, Janata Dal (United) or JD (U) and an independent, after chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said the vote was a test of who was on the side of the common man.

The 28 AAP members, along with seven Congress MLAs, a lone JD(U) member and an independent member, stood up in support of the motion when pro-tem speaker Matin Ahmad asked those who backed the motion to rise. The 31 members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and one member of its ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal, opposed the motion.

“Today the question in front of the House is: who all will stand for the common man, for the issues of the common man," Kejriwal said in his 25-minute reply in a debate that lasted four-and-a-half hours.

“They should also decide as to which side they are in the fight between truth and honesty in politics and whether they want to participate in it," he said.

The common man of Delhi has taken the lead in showing the rest of the country in which direction national politics should head, Kejriwal, a former Indian Revenue Service officer, said.

AAP emerged as the second largest party in the House, behind the BJP, after the 4 December elections which ousted the Congress after it had been in power for 15 years under Sheila Dikshit.

The BJP refused to stake a claim for forming the government because it lacked a majority, after which the AAP took the conditional support of the Congress, which has eight seats in the assembly, to come to power.

The trust motion was moved by Manish Sisodia, senior AAP leader and public works minister in Kejriwal’s cabinet, who said the aim of the first non-Congress, non-BJP government was “to take forward the issues of Delhi" and asked members to rise above party lines to vote in favour of the motion.

AAP has been targeted by the BJP for taking the support of the Congress to come to power. The fledgling party had attacked the Congress for alleged corruption in the election campaign.

Harsh Vardhan, leader of opposition, said in the assembly that the party had “betrayed people’s mandate" by accepting the support of the Congress.

“You no longer have any moral rights to talk about corruption from the day you compromised with corruption," he added.

Arvinder Singh Lovely, president of Congress’ Delhi state unit, said the party would lend its support to the AAP even for five years, but added the caveat that the backing would last only as long as it stayed pro-people.

“Today if we have supported them it is because people of Delhi want them to fulfil the promises they made; we are supporting them because we did not want elections to be imposed in Delhi," Lovely said in the House.

“I promise you (Kejriwal) on record that till you keep having people-friendly policies there is no threat to your government even for a full five years," he said.

Political experts said that while the Congress party would not want to withdraw support to the AAP government at this stage, the AAP would try to leverage its Delhi experience to reap political dividends in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

“The stability and longevity of the AAP government is not at stake, that is the Congress’ problem," said A. K. Verma, a political analyst and professor of political science at Christ Church College, Kanpur. “The AAP’s concern will be of performance and governance. AAP would want to enhance this opportunity of governance and if they perform well they can take it to the rest of the country ahead of the general elections."

Less than a week after taking office, the AAP has delivered on two key electoral promises. On Monday, the capital’s water distributor said households with a metered water connection in Delhi will get 20 kilolitres of water a month free of cost; on Tuesday the state government announced a 50% cut in electricity tariffs.

Manisha Priyam, a political economist and currently a fellow with the Indian Council of Social Science Research, said the Congress party would not want to disturb the Delhi government at least until the general elections.

“I do not see this government being shaky, not at least till the Lok Sabha elections. The Congress party would not want to send a wrong signal by doing that," she said.

PTI contributed to this story.

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Updated: 03 Jan 2014, 12:38 AM IST
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