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Lok Sabha election 2019: Sharad Pawar steps in to kickstart AAP-Congress talks for Lok Sabha polls

This is Sharad Pawar’s second effort since mid-February when he hosted a dinner for top opposition leaders at his house that brought Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal to the same room

lok sabha elections Updated: Mar 19, 2019 15:41 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
AAP,Aam Aadmi Party,Congress
Nationalist Congress Party boss Sharad Pawar on Tuesday stepped in to help Rahul Gandhi’s Congress and Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party work out an alliance in the national capital for the Lok Sabha elections.(PTI file photo)

Nationalist Congress Party boss Sharad Pawar on Tuesday stepped in to help Rahul Gandhi’s Congress and Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party work out an alliance in the national capital for the Lok Sabha elections. Pawar also reached out to AAP’s Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh soon after.

A Congress leader said Rahul Gandhi drove down to Sharad Pawar’s residence along with senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge. They went over the seat sharing deal for Maharashtra where the Congress and NCP are in alliance. The conversation then moved to Delhi.

It is not immediately clear how this round of Pawar’s intervention will pan out. The Congress hasn’t spoken yet on the outreach. AAP’s Sanjay Singh did not get into the details of his conversation with Pawar but stressed that “this is the time to save the country… not just talks of a party”.

Watch: Decision on AAP-Congress alliance in a few days: PC Chacko

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This is Sharad Pawar’s second effort since mid-February when he hosted a dinner for top opposition leaders at his house that brought Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal to the same room. Over dinner, there were many suggestions at this meeting that the Congress and AAP should join hands in Delhi.

Gandhi, 48, however, knew that many of his party’s Delhi leaders were against any alliance with AAP and signaled his reluctance. The Congress and its leaders had been AAP’s prime target when the party, which has its origins in a massive anti-corruption movement, had founded.

But the February meet did set off some rethinking within the Congress. Over the next few weeks, many Congress leaders including Ajay Maken and Arvinder Singh Lovely – who had campaigned against a tie-up with AAP – joined the chorus.

When the Congress leadership decided to conduct a survey to get a sense of what party workers thought about the idea, Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit made no secret of her disappointment. Dikshit told reporters that she did not know about the survey.

Read: Amit Shah targets Rahul Gandhi over police action against ‘techies’ in Bengaluru

She followed it up with a letter to the Congress president, also signed by the city unit’s three working presidents, warning the party that an alliance with AAP would hurt the party in the long run. The opponents of the alliance in the party believe that the move will be “suicidal” as the Congress has to face the Delhi Assembly polls early next year and its main rival will be the ruling AAP.

But this wasn’t the only letter written. There is another letter, this one by 5 former Delhi Congress presidents and 15 block presidents, which supports the alliance.

First Published: Mar 19, 2019 14:22 IST