Insight Delhi

#CONGRESS DILEMMA ON AAM AADMI PARTY

          The Congress is busy tying up alliances or #seat sharing deals with other political parties in the states, where it is not strong, but is in two minds on an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party in the National Capital Territory of Delhi. #Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP, which is ruling the NCT, has indicated its interest in entering into an alliance with the Congress for the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi, both formally and informally. But the move has not made any headway because of the opposition of Congress leaders in the National Capital Territory to the idea.

          Delhi Congress President #Sheila Dikshit announced on Tuesday, March 5, after meeting Congress President Rahul Gandhi that it had been unanimously decided not to have an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party.

          The Congress decided to spurn the overtures from the Aam Aadmi Party for an alliance despite the fact that the combined vote share of the two parties would have been enough to defeat the BJP in six out of the seven Lok Sabha seats from Delhi. The party also perhaps knows that without a major shift in voter preferences, which is unlikely, it stands very little chance of defeating the BJP in Delhi and winning even  one or two Lok Sabha seats of the total seven.

          The Aam Aadmi Party’s compulsions for reaching out to the Congress are understandable. The party no doubt won 67 out of the total 70 seats in the Assembly elections held in 2015. But in the Lok Sabha elections held in 2014, the party had not won even one seat and the BJP had swept the polls in the National Capital Territory.

          The BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party were the major beneficiaries of the movement launched during the last two years of the #UPA government headed by Dr. Manmohan Singh against the alleged corruption of the Congress led government. While the gains for the BJP came from most of the northern and western states, the Aam Aadmi Party found resonance only in the National Capital Territory of Delhi to a large extent, and in Punjab to a smaller extent. The only Lok Sabha  seats, which the Aam Aadmi Party won in the 2014 elections, were in Punjab. It bagged four of the total 13 seats in the state.

          The question arises why the Congress does not favour an alliance or seat sharing deal with the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi, when it is likely to benefit both the parties. Also, denying an edge to the BJP in Delhi would have helped in achieving the overall objective of ridding the country of the Narendra Modi led BJP dispensation. After all, this is the main plank of the so called #MAHAGATHBANDHAN ornational opposition alliance, for which both the Congress and major regional outfits have been working in the last year or so.

          It is apparent that the Congress thinks that the long term adverse impact will outweigh short term gains of an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party. The Congress, in an alliance with the Arvind Kejriwal led AAP may win one or two #Lok Sabha seats from Delhi. But this will also help the Aam Aadmi Party to move towards its ultimate objective of becoming an all India level party.

          It is also likely that in return for an alliance or seat sharing deal in Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party would have insisted upon having an  arrangement also in states like Punjab, Haryana and Goa. Except for Punjab, the Aam Aadmi Party has no presence on the ground in these states. Any gain for the Congress in Delhi would have been outweighed by the concessions it would have to make elsewhere.

          It is significant that the Congress has a rejected seat sharing deal with the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi despite pressure from its allies elsewhere. There are reports that the #Nationalist Congress Party headed by Mr. #Sharad Pawar and even the #Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister #Mamata Banerjee have been asking the Congress to consider allying with state outfits to defeat the BJP. In reference to Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, the NCP has said that the Congress should consider its electoral power while approaching the alliance issue. The NCP has said that it favours formation of “pragmatic” anti-BJP alliances in these states.

          It is possible that in the next few weeks, there may be more confabulations among the Congress and other opposition parties on the strategy to take on the Narendra Modi led BJP in the coming Lok Sabha elections. It would be interesting to see if the Congress agrees to modify its stance vis-à-vis the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi.

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