The Aam Aadmi Party waited for a call from Congress president Rahul Gandhi till 9.30 a.m. on Thursday before informing the rest of the Opposition that it will stay away from the election for the post of Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
“We stayed away from voting for the Deputy Chairman’s election. We attended the House proceedings after that,” said AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh.
The equation had changed for the AAP as soon as the Congress had picked its MP B.K. Hariprasad as the Opposition nominee. Mr. Singh had told reporters on Wednesday night itself that the Congress should not take their support for granted and that if it needed their votes, the Congress president himself should call AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
On Thursday, the AAP MP slammed the largest Opposition party for not heeding his call. “The Congress is the biggest hurdle to Opposition unity. How will he [Rahul Gandhi] ensure the victory of his candidate if he cannot ask for votes?” said Mr. Singh. The Congress, it is learnt, took a call that its president need not personally reach out to Mr. Kejriwal for the AAP’s three votes in the Rajya Sabha.
The sources said, three senior Congress leaders — Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Ahmed Patel — did reach out to the AAP. This, however, did not help secure the party’s support.
Failed to bury hatchet
The two parties — opponents in Delhi — have not been able to bury the hatchet even amid all the recent talk of Opposition unity. The Congress did not participate in AAP’s recent protest against L-G Anil Baijal, which saw four Opposition Chief Ministers — Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress, Pinarayi Vijayan of the CPI(M), Chandrababu Naidu of the Telugu Desam Party and H.D. Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal (Secular) — come out in support of Mr. Kejriwal’s sit-in at Raj Niwas.
Mr. Singh lashed out at the Congress for keeping a “distance” from the AAP, saying the latter had unconditionally supported the Gandhi-led party on several occasions, including the elections for President and Vice-President. On Wednesday, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar had called Mr. Kejriwal seeking support for NDA candidate and Janata Dal (United) MP Harivansh, Mr. Singh said, adding that the AAP chief refused to oblige. “If Nitish could ask for support for his candidate, why not Rahul?” Mr. Singh said after Mr. Harivansh sailed through with 125 votes against Mr. Hariprasad’s 101.
(With PTI inputs)
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