Why Congress-AAP alliance in Delhi looks unlikely

Sources in Congress say the party wants to contest three seats

Rahul Gandhi (left) and Arvind Kejriwal (File) Rahul Gandhi (left) and Arvind Kejriwal | PTI

The prospect of the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party putting up a joint fight, as part of the opposition INDIA bloc, in the national capital for the Lok Sabha elections now appears to have become exceedingly difficult.

The AAP today publically proposed that the Congress should contest only one of the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi, with the AAP contesting the remaining six. What is more significant is the party's National General Secretary Sandeep Pathak declaring in a press conference not only what the party feels should be the seat-sharing formula in the capital, but also spelling out the statistical basis for it.

As he briefed the media after the meeting of the AAP's Political Affairs Committee, Pathak said that, based on data, the Congress should not contest even one seat in Delhi. “They have zero Lok Sabha or Vidhan Sabha seats in Delhi. They won only nine out of the 250 seats in the MCD,” he said, adding that the AAP was proposing one seat for the Congress because it wanted to respect alliance dharma.

According to sources in both the Congress and the AAP, the possibility of an alliance in Delhi is not over yet. As per AAP leaders, the party is willing to discuss the seat-sharing arrangement with the Congress in Delhi, but claimed that a sense of frustration was setting in over the pace of talks.

According to sources in the Congress, it would be wrong to say that meetings have not taken place to discuss the seat-sharing formula in Delhi. The sources also said that the Congress is ready for an arrangement wherein the national party contests three seats and the AAP puts up candidates in four constituencies.

It is felt that the stance taken by the two parties in other states is casting a shadow on the seat-sharing discussions in Delhi. The AAP and the Congress have already decided to contest separately in Punjab. In Gujarat, the two parties have locked horns over Bharuch Lok Sabha seat, which was at one time represented by late Congress leader Ahmed Patel. The Congress has conveyed to the AAP that it would not want to give up Bharuch and is keen to field Patel's daughter Mumtaz from the seat. The AAP has declared party MLA Chaitra Vasava as the nominee there for the Lok Sabha elections. Besides, the AAP today also announced that it would contest from Bhavnagar seat in Gujarat.

Also, what may not help the seat-sharing discussions between the two parties in Delhi is the strident stance taken by the AAP of deciding to contest one seat in Goa and staking claim to Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat.

The AAP has also conveyed to the Congress that it wants to contest eight seats in Gujarat.

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