AAP still open to tie-up with Congress across 3 states
In his first remarks on the issue, Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said the Congress should consider joining hands with the AAP in at least 18 parliamentary seats, if not 33 as had been initially proposed by his party.Updated: Apr 13, 2019 22:57 IST
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Saturday once again reached out to the Congress for an alliance in Delhi, Haryana and Chandigarh in the ongoing Lok Sabha polls, but the latter insisted that any tie-up be limited to the national capital, prolonging the suspense over their on again-off again efforts to forge a united front against the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP).
In his first remarks on the issue, Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said the Congress should consider joining hands with the AAP in at least 18 parliamentary seats, if not 33 as had been initially proposed by his party. Sisodia’s comments came a day after the Congress said it had been “compelled” to go it alone in Delhi because of AAP’s insistence on extending an alliance to other states..
“In the last one week, meetings were held between the AAP and the Congress and we proposed alliance on 33 seats in Delhi, Goa, Chandigarh, Haryana and Punjab. We understood when they (Congress) said joining hands in Punjab was not possible because AAP is in-principle opposition there. Goa, it is too late now, as the last date of withdrawal of nomination is also gone,” he said.
“But, there is still time to defeat the Modi-Shah duo on 18 seats – seven in Delhi, 10 in Haryana and one in Chandigarh,” Sisodia said, referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. “The Congress should realize there is no point of an alliance in Delhi alone,” he said.
The Congress-AAP efforts for a tie-up in Delhi have been driven by a desire not to divide the anti-BJP vote in the national capital to improve their chances in the polls this time around. In 2014, the two parties together had a 48.3% share of the vote compared to 46.6% for the BJP, which won all seven seats.
“We respect Manishji and we respect his sentiments. But whatever the Congress had to say about this alliance it had already stated its position,” Congress party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters.
Congress’ in-charge for Delhi PC Chacko said the AAP should instead understand that the “political dynamics” of every state was different and that “the same formula” cannot be applied everywhere.
“We have not received any new official communication from the AAP on an alliance. We are ready to join hands in Delhi about which even the seat sharing pact was sealed with the party. But, now if they are retracting their stand, what can we do,” he said when asked for a response on Sisodia’s comment.
The Congress leader said he had sent a text message to Kejriwal seeking a discussion on the matter. “But he was busy in election work and had deputed AAP’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh to do the talks. Congress had two rounds of meetings with Singh until last week. In the meetings, he never spoke of Haryana or Chandigarh. It is only after the Delhi pact was sorted that they started demanding more,” Chacko said.
Going ahead with its plan, the Congress on Saturday evening released the list of its candidates for six of the 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana.
The seats included three constituencies that AAP had been keen to contest - Gurugram, Faridabad and Ambala. AAP had been insistent on an alliance in Haryana with the Congress and the rookie Jannayak Janata Party (JJP). Senior AAP leaders said the party wanted to contest five seats along with JJP, including Karnal and Sonipat apart from Gurugram, Faridabad and Ambala. After the Congress refused to agree, AAP and JJP said they would contest all 10 seats together.
Chacko met Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee chief and three-time chief minister Sheila Dikshit on Saturday afternoon. “The meeting was on our election strategy. We are waiting for Congress president Rahul Gandhi to review and approve the final list of our candidates in Delhi. Until then, the AAP is welcome if it wants to come together in Delhi,” Chacko said.
Delhi goes to poll on May 12 and AAP has announced its candidates for all seven parliamentary seats in the national capital. The Congress, so far, has finalised senior leader Kapil Sibal for the Chandni Chowk seat, Ajay Maken for New Delhi, JP Agarwal for Northeast Delhi and Raj Kumar Chauhan for Northwest Delhi.
Dikshit is being persuaded by the party’s senior leadership to contest the East Delhi seat. The BJP is yet to make its slate public.
To forge an alliance in Delhi, the two parties had previously agreed that the Congress would contest three seats ( (Chandni Chowk, New Delhi and West Delhi) and AAP the remaining four, based on their vote share in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress has already announced its candidate for the single seat in Chandigarh.
First Published: Apr 13, 2019 22:57 IST