Lok Sabha elections 2019| Congress has declined alliance, no more talks now: Arvind Kejriwal

Several senior AAP functionaries, however, said the back-channel talks with Congress leaders were still on. They said Rai’s announcement on Tuesday was “part of a larger political strategy”.
New Delhi, India - March 19, 2019: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal speaks as AAP spokesperson Atishi and other AAP leaders look on during the first election campaign rally, at Ramesh Park, in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday, March 19, 2019. (Photo by Raj K Raj/ Hindustan Times)(Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)
New Delhi, India - March 19, 2019: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal speaks as AAP spokesperson Atishi and other AAP leaders look on during the first election campaign rally, at Ramesh Park, in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday, March 19, 2019. (Photo by Raj K Raj/ Hindustan Times)(Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Apr 24, 2020 04:50 PM IST
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New Delhi | ByAbhishek Dey

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was not holding any talks with the Congress for a pre-poll alliance.

“As far as I know, the Congress has declined an alliance. We are not holding any talks with them. We don’t have anything to do with their meeting. The Congress is planting stories,” Kejriwal, AAP national convener, said on the sidelines of a public meeting in east Delhi’s Laxmi Nagar on Tuesday evening.

Earlier in the day, AAP Delhi convener Gopal Rai said the party will fight elections on its own and there will be “no tie up with the Congress”.

Several senior AAP functionaries, however, said the back-channel talks with Congress leaders were still on. They said Rai’s announcement on Tuesday was “part of a larger political strategy”.

While functionaries of the AAP have claimed to have proposed the Congress a 5:2 seat sharing deal (five for the AAP and two for the Congress), members of the Congress said that they will settle for nothing less than 3:3:1 - three share each for the two parties and one for an independent candidate.

Asked about the “backchannel negotiations”, senior Congress leader and party Delhi in-charge PC Chacko said: “I had my last meeting with Sheila Dikshit yesterday [Monday]. She was against the alliance. I told her once again why and how the alliance is essential to defeat BJP in Delhi. Anything about a seat-sharing ratio was not on table. It will be discussed only after Rahul Gandhi takes the final call on the alliance. For now, nobody has officially approached us with seat sharing numbers, nor have we approached anyone.”

On Tuesday morning, the buzz around a possible Congress-AAP alliance intensified when Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar flew to Delhi and separately met Congress president Rahul Gandhi and AAP’s Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh.

Singh said: “If the Congress wants to defeat BJP and stop the politics of hate, it has to tie up with AAP in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi. We have conveyed a 5:2 seat share proposal to Congress in Delhi and reiterated the same in the meeting today with Sharad Pawar ji, who had met me after meeting Rahul Gandhi ji. But so far, there has been no negotiation on the specifics of the seat-sharing ratio in the other two states.”

Singh said the Delhi proposal was “not negotiable”.

Rai’s categorical denial on Tuesday was, however, a U-turn on his part. So far, he had maintained that the Congress was causing “damage” to the fight against the BJP by not taking a firm stand on the alliance. On whether if that meant the doors (for an alliance) were totally closed, he had said, “If they approach us, we will see to it.”

When asked if his statement was at odds with MP Sanjay Singh’s statement just hours earlier, Rai simply said: “There is no time for ifs and buts. Now, we will focus only on our campaign.”

Delhi has seven Lok Sabha constituencies and will go for the polls on May 12. The AAP has announced candidates to all seven seats. Neither the Congress nor the BJP have announced their lists.

 

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