The development came days after the Aam Aadmi Party declared six candidates for the general elections.
The Congress party on Tuesday ruled out any alliance with the ruling Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi. The announcement was made by former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit following a meeting with Congress president Rahul Gandhi. “A unanimous decision has been taken that there will be no alliance in Delhi,” Dikshit said.
Earlier in the day, Gandhi called the meeting of its Delhi leadership to discuss the possibility of an alliance with Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party to discuss an alliance for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
The development came days after the Aam Aadmi Party declared six candidates for the general elections. An alliance between Congress and the AAP would have required both parties to shed old baggage after their bitter fallout in 2014. Both parties had entered a post-poll alliance to form a government in Delhi under Kejriwal’s leadership. The Congress-AAP alliance lasted a total of 49 days and the government fell.
Congress leaders in the past have said that the party is under pressure from ‘secular’ and ‘like-minded’ parties in the opposition to join hands with the AAP and push a united front against the BJP in Delhi. This resulted in Rahul Gandhi asking the Delhi unit to reconsider its earlier position.
Recently, it was reported that even as the AAP announced candidates, sources in the Congress and AAP indicated that doors for an alliance between the two parties are not shut yet.
However, AAP’s demand for a seat-sharing pact in Punjab and the Congress’ demand for a ‘respectable’ number of seats in the national capital are said to be the irritants. The Congress in Punjab under Capt. Amarinder Singh is strongly opposed to any pact with the AAP, which it believes is disintegrating fast in the state, and need not be resurrected by an alliance.
The AAP has even said that declaring candidates for Delhi seats had been forced by the Congress’s repeated assertion that its Delhi unit was against a tie-up.
However, AAP had announced the candidates after the Congress’ Delhi unit said that it was not in favour of an alliance with the Arvind Kejriwal-led party.
Another recent Congress meeting chaired by Sheila Dikshit and attended by several top Congress leaders, including her predecessor Ajay Maken, had discussed the alliance issue and reportedly, the Congress had spoken about a 3-3-1 ticket division, where both parties get three tickets each and one goes to an independent candidate.
However, the AAP was reportedly opposed to the idea as the Congress doesn’t have a single MLA in Delhi and the AAP got twice as many votes as them in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Moreover, it was also anticipated that the move to announce the candidates by the AAP is to mount pressure on the Congress central leadership. Interestingly, Congress had extended support to the first Kejriwal government in 2013, only to withdraw it months later.
However, with the Congress ending speculation, the fight in the national capital has become a three-cornered with AAP-Congress-BJP chasing for votes to come to power.
AAP, which thronged Delhi with 67 out of 70 assembly seats would like to enter the Parliament this time and the BJP which has all seven MPs will push for consolidation. While the Congress would like to re-enter the capital through Lok Sabha after it went out of power after 15 years of rule in 2013.