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New Delhi: Delhi appeared heading for fresh elections after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the single largest party in the assembly, told Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung on Monday it doesn’t have the numbers to form a government on its own.

The party took the stand to face elections even though most of its 28 members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) wanted the leadership to find ways to form a government in Delhi. The BJP leadership has been divided so far on the matter, while its main rival, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), has been vociferous in demanding fresh polls.

Jung held consultations with leaders of the BJP, Congress and AAP on Monday to explore the possibility of government formation in the city-state. “In the meeting, all the parties expressed their inability to form the government," he said in a statement. Jung will be sending his report to President Pranab Mukherjee.

Delhi BJP president Satish Upadhyay and leader Jagdish Mukhi met Jung on Monday and gave him in writing that the party didn't have the required numbers to form a majority government in Delhi’s 70-member assembly. “We don't have the numbers. This is our stand. Now it is for the Lieutenant Governor and Election Commission to decide the future course of action. We have conveyed our stand," said Srikanth Sharma, national secretary of the BJP.

The BJP, along with its alliance partner, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), won 32 seats in the Delhi assembly elections held in December last year. The tally fell to 29 after three BJP MLAs—Harsh Vardhan, Parvesh Sahib Singh and Ramesh Bidhuri—were elected to the Lok Sabha this year and, thus, had to give up their assembly seats.

AAP, led by Arvind Kejriwal, won 27 seats, while the ruling Congress could manage to win only eight after 15 years in power. The BJP refused to form the government, prompting AAP to form a minority government with the support of the Congress. However, Kejriwal resigned after 49 days in office.

Monday’s development is significant because the BJP believes its victory in the Maharashtra and Haryana assembly elections boosts its chances in Delhi. But BJP leaders say that with the momentum continuing in favour of the party, there was no need for it to indulge in unconstitutional means to form a government in Delhi—a reference to fears of horse trading if the BJP had been offered a stab at government formation without fresh elections being ordered.

“We have been making preparations for assembly elections in Delhi for the past three months. People of Delhi have seen Congress governments for the past 15 years and they have also witnessed the 49-day government of former chief minister Kejriwal. People are tired of both these parties and we are confident they will vote for BJP in Delhi and give the party a complete majority in the national capital," said a senior BJP leader.

After the BJP conveyed its decision, Jung invited leaders of AAP and the Congress for separate meetings on Monday evening to discuss possible government formation in Delhi. Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia represented AAP. Soon after the meeting, Sisodia said AAP favoured fresh elections so that people can have a corruption-free government. “We have requested the L-G for early elections. If possible, elections should be held in the upcoming phase (along with Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in November-December. Our stance has been constant. We are ready for fresh elections and want the assembly dissolved. There is no chance of forming government in coalition with another party now," he added. The AAP government resigned in February in protest after BJP and Congress blocked its flagship anti-corruption legislation.

The Congress was represented by its legislative party leader, Haroon Yusuf, at the meeting with Jung. “Congress party’s stand over the last two months has been none of the parties have the numbers to form government in Delhi. We told the same thing to the L-G and requested that the assembly be dissolved and fresh elections be called urgently," said Mukesh Sharma, a Congress leader from Delhi.

Political analysts believe the only constitutional option available before the centre is to call for fresh elections.

“This is the best time for the BJP to go for elections. The party has done well in Maharashtra and Haryana, it is hoping to contest well in Jharkhand and J&K. Since BJP has the advantage, it wants fresh polls in Delhi," said Bidyut Chakrabarty, a Delhi-based political analyst.

Anuja contributed to this story.

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