Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has made it clear that despite repeated rebuffs from the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) remains keen on a pre-election alliance with it for the seven Lok Sabha seats in the capital.
At a rally near Jama Masjid on Wednesday, Kejriwal said, “Hum (AAP) Congress ko manaa manaa ke thak gaye, gathbandhan kar lo, gathbandhan kar lo (We are tired of asking the Congress to do a deal with us),” and expressed frustration that the Congress had not responded.
Why is the AAP, which swept the Delhi Assembly polls in 2015, so keen to have a partner against the BJP for the Lok Sabha elections?
Kejriwal said: “I believe there should be only one opposition candidate against the BJP everywhere… If there is an arrangement (between the Congress and AAP) the BJP will be routed in Delhi.”
He’s underlining to the Congress that it would win nothing in a three-cornered fight on its own, and stood to gain by keeping the BJP out if it agreed to join hands with the AAP — albeit after conceding the leadership of the Opposition to the AAP.
Indeed, he said, “If I had enough reason to believe that the Congress would win all seven seats in Delhi, I would be willing to leave all seats to them… but they won’t.”
A statement such as this claims the moral high ground for Kejriwal — willing to do anything it takes to defeat the BJP — while sending a blunt message to the Congress on its current weak position in Delhi.
Kejriwal is also flagging to the anti-BJP voter that if they decide to split their vote between the Congress and AAP, what would likely happen is the opposite of what they want — a BJP victory. Voting for AAP, the stronger of the two Opposition parties, is, therefore, the smarter and more logical thing for them to do.
In 2014, when the three parties contested the elections separately, the vote shares of the Congress and the AAP added up to almost 49% of the total — more than the 45% vote that the BJP got.
The votes of the candidates of the AAP and Congress added up to more than that of the BJP candidate in six seats out of seven, the only exception being West Delhi, where Parvesh Sahib Singh, the son of former Chief Minister Sahib Singh Verma, polled more votes than the Congress’s Mahabal Mishra and the AAP’s Jarnail Singh put together.