Delhi is headed for federal rule following the impasse in the formation of a new government after no party won a majority in the latest polls.
As per Indian electoral laws, a new government has to be installed within six months of elections.
If the current stalemate is broken during this period, the next government can take office. Else, re-elections will have to be held. Until then, the state governor will step in to rule the state.
The newcomer Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) threw the post-election calculations of its dominant opponents, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress, out of the window by winning 28 of the total 70 seats to the Delhi state assembly.
The BJP was unable to cross the half-way mark of 35, getting just 31 seats. The Congress, which was the ruling party in the previous assembly, was routed with just eight seats.
On Tuesday, with AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal categorically rejecting the support offered by the Congress to form government, the chances of a new government taking charge has receded considerably.
The other possibility, that of legislators from the AAP or from the Congress, of supporting a BJP government too appears slim.
Under India’s anti-defection law, at least one-third of a party must switch sides or else the legislator’s win can be nullified.
Break from past
In the past, in similar situations, the party closest to forming the government managed to break opponent parties and get the support of more than one-third of its members.
This was done by promising ministries in the new government and by even offering huge bribes, though this has never been officially acknowledged.
However, in the current case of Delhi, the sweeping victory of the AAP on an anti-corruption platform has made political parties wary of doing what they traditionally did.
AAP winners have told the media they have been informally approached by the BJP, but none so far has agreed to support the party.
What remains interesting is that backroom manoeuvring is possible in the six months required to form the next government.
Once, media and public attention moves away from Delhi, there could be a situation where either the BJP or the AAP could find reasons to dilute their rigid posturing and find ways of getting support to stitch a majority and lay claim to power.
Until then, it will have to be federal rule. If the impasse continues, Delhi will see re-elections.