Congress divided on a tie-up with AAP

Central leadership all for an alliance in Delhi, but State unit pushes back against any adjustment

The Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) could work out an alliance for the seven Lok Sabha seats of Delhi as early as next week if the central leadership of the former can “convince” the Delhi unit of the party.

If the deal is sealed, each party could contest three seats and support a common candidate for another. Names that are being discussed include BJP rebels Shatrughan Sinha and Yashwant Sinha as the common candidate.

Surveys and polls done by both the parties indicate that if the AAP and the Congress contest separately in Delhi, the BJP could sweep the Lok Sabha polls.

But convincing the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) could turn out to be tricky as it rejected such an offer on Friday because of the stiff resistance from the workers. They maintain that the Congress could win the Lok Sabha polls on its own without an alliance.

DPCC chief and former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit openly took a hard line and rejected an alliance with the AAP. After a meeting attended by senior Delhi Congress leaders at Ms. Dikshit’s residence, it was decided not to tie up with the AAP in the State for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. “We held a discussion about the tie-up and most of the leaders were against it. We will convey our decision to the party high command,” Ms. Dikshit said.

Congress working president Rajesh Lilothia speaking after the meeting said the Congress was very strong in Delhi and that the Congress workers were against a tie-up with a party that showed no seriousness about working for the people of Delhi.

“In elections, you win some and you lose some. We have been in power for 15 years at a stretch and the Congress is regaining strength in the State. We took a decision to reject any proposal from the AAP for a tie-up,” he said.

But a source familiar with the discussions told The Hindu that senior leader P.C. Chacko, who is the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge for Delhi, has had two rounds of meeting with Ms. Dikshit on how to take it forward. Mr. Chacko is learnt to have suggested that the two parties have a “seat adjustment” in Delhi alone, delinking it from Punjab and Haryana.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi has left the issue to be decided by the State unit but conveyed that the main political tactic is to ensure the BJP’s defeat. While Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had publicly stated that he was tired of asking for a tie-up, the Congress officially denied any discussion was held. Ms. Dikshit said that she did not know on what basis Mr. Kejriwal had made the statement.

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