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'Congress ready for Delhi tie-up with AAP': Rahul Gandhi's proposal only meant to keep doors open for post-poll alliance

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has created a new buzz in political circles by opening up the possibility to arrive at a last-minute seat-sharing agreement with the Aam Admi Party (AAP) in Delhi before the time to withdraw nominations runs out on 26 April. At a time when the stage has already been set for a triangular contest in Delhi, the proposal to ally sounds more like a nicety doled out to keep possibility of a post-poll alliance open.

In an interview with Navbharat Times published just after the third phase of the general election, Rahul said, “We are ready for an alliance (in Delhi) to defeat the BJP. The 4+3 formula to share seats in Delhi was offered by (Delhi chief minister and AAP supremo) Arvind Kejriwal himself.”

During the alliance talks, the AAP had indeed proposed to leave three seats for the Congress in Delhi, but only in exchange of one seat in Haryana. Haryana has 10 Lok Sabha seats, whereas Delhi has seven.

 Congress ready for Delhi tie-up with AAP: Rahul Gandhis proposal only meant to keep doors open for post-poll alliance

File image of Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Twitter/@INCIndia

At a press conference, Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia had said that a ratio of 6:3:1 was initially proposed in Haryana to share seats among Congress, Jananayak Janata Party (JJP) and the AAP.

He further said that the Congress was not ready to leave seats in Haryana on account of which the Delhi alliance, too, did not work out.

While proposing a last-minute alliance with the AAP in the interview, Rahul repeated his party’s stance and denied any possibility of alliance with the AAP in Haryana.

“The moment Kejriwal drops the condition of including Haryana, it (alliance in Delhi) will happen,” he said. Rahul's last-minute proposal to ally with AAP in Delhi did not go down well with Kejriwal. In a predictable note, he spurned the proposal, saying that Rahul has no genuine intention to ally.

Technically, a seat-sharing alliance between the Congress and the AAP is still possible before the windows for withdrawing nominations are shut. As the polling in Delhi is slated to take place on 12 May, even if an alliance is formed on 26 April, it would have 14 days’ time to reach out to people.

Being the national capital, Delhi has one of the best transport and communication facilities in India. Hence, reaching out to people with a new alliance in two weeks, though an uphill one, does not seem like an impossible one.

Despite the viability of a last-minute alliance, Rahul's proposal is seen as only a gesture to keep the doors for post-poll alliance open. One of the reasons why it is so is that both the parties have already fielded their heavyweights in Delhi.

The Congress has fielded former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit from North East Delhi, former Union minister Ajay Maken from New Delhi and boxer Vijender Singh from the South Delhi Lok Sabha constituency. On the other hand, the AAP has fielded party stalwarts like Atishi in East Delhi, Raghav Chadha in South Delhi and Dilip Pandey in North East Delhi.

The withdrawal of nominations by these leaders at this juncture would certainly not go down well with them as well as the voters. This is the last risk both the parties would like to take at a time when the Assembly elections in Delhi are around the corner.

Both the Congress and the AAP will be facing each other in the Assembly polls in Delhi to be held in the early 2020. No wonder that Kejriwal believes Rahul's proposal for a last second pre-poll alliance is only a nicety.

It is known that the AAP and the Congress have shared a bitter past. In fact, the AAP formed government in Delhi raising an anti-incumbency tide against the Congress in 2015. The bitterness in relations is also one of the reasons why an alliance could not be arrived between both the parties.

In spite of this, the Congress cannot rule out the need of a post-poll alliance with the AAP. That's because in the last four years, the AAP has emerged as a serious contender not only in Delhi, but also in a number of seats in Punjab, and Haryana. In the event of a hung Parliament, the Congress might desperately need the support of the AAP to form a government and his gesture is likely as an effort to ensure the same.

The Congress has a proven track record of helming two successive governments at the Centre (from 2004 to 2014) with support of smaller parties. At a time when political pundits predict a much bigger role of smaller parties in forming the next government, Rahul's proposal is seen as a goodwill message not only meant for the AAP but also for other regional satraps for a post-poll alliance.

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Updated Date: Apr 24, 2019 22:22:23 IST