Alliance talks between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) have failed again, and DPCC chief Sheila Dikshit has said that the Congress state unit has made a unanimous decision to fight the Lok Sabha elections alone.
Behind the breakdown of talks, which has happened the second time in a month, is the disagreement on seat-sharing. All seven Lok Sabha seats from Delhi went to the BJP in 2014.
AAP insiders say the party came second on all seven seats in 2014 and is not willing to give more than 2 seats to the Congress. The Congress, however, said it wanted at least three seats.
Neither party has managed to zero in on a candidate from West Delhi, and both are willing to the back an Independent from the constituency. The name of BJP veteran Yashwant Sinha has been discussed for the seat.
The two seats that the AAP is willing to give to the Congress are New Delhi and Chandni Chowk, sources said. AAP announced candidates from six seats on Saturday, in what Congress and AAP insiders said was a pressure tactic. The Congress is yet to declare the name of any candidate.
The AAP’s candidate from Chandni Chowk is the old party hand Pankaj Gupta, while the candidate from New Delhi is the head of its trader wing, Brijesh Goyal.
According to Congress sources, the party is keen on having former Delhi unit head, Ajay Maken contest from New Delhi, and senior leader Kapil Sibal from Chandni Chowk. Both have been elected to Parliament from these constituencies before. AAP insiders, however, say that the specific constituencies were not as much of a sticking point as the number of seats.
“We were willing to part with one, at the most two seats. Giving three seats to a party that doesn’t have a single MLA in the city is not possible. We have been clear from the beginning, we want to ally with the Congress only because we don’t want the BJP to come back to power. As things stand, the BJP’s vote share has shrunk a little from the 44% it had in 2014. But whatever shrinking happens, it will not have as big an impact as the splitting of votes between the AAP and Congress,” said a senior AAP leader.
Going by the results of 2014, if Congress and AAP maintain their vote shares, the alliance will win six out of seven seats. The only seat where the BJP had an edge was West Delhi where Pravesh Sahib Singh got 48% of the votes, while AAP and Congress together got 42%.
While the Delhi Congress leadership has ruled out an alliance, the AICC is yet to speak, giving the AAP leaders some hope.
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