After Ajay Maken resigned as the Delhi Congress chief on Friday, speculation is rife that Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Congress are planning to fight the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Delhi together. However, several sections of both parties are warning against the possible alliance in the national capital and also Punjab.
According to reports, Maken's resignation — official reason for which was the Congress leader's health issues — could also be because of growing inclination of the party to ally or have a seat-sharing arrangement with AAP.
News18 reported that former AAP leader Ashutosh wrote in his publication that it was Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal who first proposed the idea of the alliance. In an article on satyahindi.com, Ashutosh wrote, "The truth is that Kejriwal decides what happens in AAP. And Kejriwal wants an alliance with Congress. He has been pushing for it for the past one year. Some other parties have also worked as communication channels for AAP and Congress.”
Ahutosh also wrote that Delhi's Congress pradesh committee had advised the "high command" against the alliance because of dwindling support for the AAP in the national capital. Maken had been vocal about his disinclination to forge an alliance with AAP when he tweeted last year, "On 'so-called' offer of AAP to Congress for three seats, look at my reply to Kejriwal! When the people of Delhi are continuously rejecting Kejriwal government, why should we come to their rescue? After all, Kejriwal with team Anna supported by RSS, helped in creating this monster of Modi!"
Ashutosh also wrote that the alliance could help the parties win all the seven seats in Delhi, whereas a split could result in the division of votes, allowing the BJP an easy win. The Congress and AAP, together can bag the votes of communities like Muslims, Dalits, and jhuggi dwellers, News18 reported. Ashutosh also said that a similar alliance was possible in Punjab, where Congress is the ruling government.
Maken, a senior Congress leader, had also launched bitter attacks on the ruling party in Delhi as part of the Opposition. Therefore, the Congress leadership could have been considering moving Maken to the party's central command to ensure alliance talks can take off smoothly.
There are talks to stretch the alliance to Punjab too, where Congress is in a much stronger position whereas AAP, still a nascent entarent is struggling to gain relevance. However, AAP's Punjab unit is not too keen to ally with the Congress. In a four-hour-long meeting with Kejriwal, party's Punjab unit expressed reservations about joining hands with the Rahul Gandhi-led Congress on Thursday.
The party, however, is still undecided over any pre-poll alliance with the Congress or the Mahagathbandhan of various non-BJP parties. "In the meeting with Mr Kejriwal, some persons pointed out AAP was the main opposition in Punjab where Congress is the ruling party, which has failed to fulfil its promises, so it will be difficult to contest the elections (with Congress)," senior AAP leader Gopal Rai said.
AAP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh said, "As of now, we have no alliance with any party. We are not saying anything on the future plans of the party". The National Council of the AAP had, in its meeting last week, decided to contest all 33 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab, Delhi, Haryana, Goa and Chandigarh.
From the Congress, no current office bearer is saying anything on the issue. However, former chief minister and Congress leader Sheila Dikshit said on Wednesday her party high command will decide whether or not an arrangement of such an alliance takes place. Dikshit, who was the chief minister of Delhi for 15 years (1998-2013) and a bitter critic of Kejriwal, said she will not question any decision her party takes on an alliance with the AAP.
"I have nothing to do with it. It's the high command which has to take a decision. Whatever its decision, I am not going to question it," Dikshit told PTI on being asked about possibility of an alliance with the AAP.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Jan 05, 2019 10:42:28 IST