A day after Congress president Rahul Gandhi said doors are still open for an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party, the Congress Tuesday reached out to AAP but claimed there was no positive response from the Arvind Kejriwal-led party.
The Congress is now planning to finalise its candidates for all seven Lok Sabha seats in the capital Wednesday. AAP had appointed its Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh as their representative for alliance talks.
Sources said Rahul, before leaving for Kerala, told AICC in-charge of Delhi P C Chacko to reach out to AAP one last time. Chacko claims he then sent text messages to senior AAP leaders Manish Sisodia and Singh, but there was no response from them. “I sent them a message asking them to contact if they are still interested in an alliance. But there is absolutely no response from the AAP side,” Chacko claimed.
When contacted, Sisodia, however, denied receiving any such message from Chacko.
“We told them that we are ready with a proposal which is reasonable. The AAP once agreed to the Congress leadership that they will contest only three seats in Delhi, give three seats to Congress and one will be a common candidate. That was the original proposal. Now we are telling them we will contest only three seats. Even then they are not agreeing. That means their intention that they want to defeat the BJP cannot be accepted as it is… How do we believe that they want to defeat the BJP?” Chacko told The Indian Express.
AAP Delhi in-charge Gopal Rai, meanwhile, said the alliance will not be discussed on Twitter. On Monday, Rahul had tweeted that it was for the AAP to decide whether they wanted an alliance or not.
Rai said: “They should think with a clear mind and take a decision soon, which will be good for everyone. We had a meeting with Kejriwal and decided that we will not get into or break any alliance on Twitter. We want to sit and talk. We want them to understand that it is important to defeat the BJP not just in Delhi, but in Haryana, Chandigarh, Punjab… How does it affect the Congress if the AAP’s existence expands? Why does it want to expand the BJP’s presence?”
Chacko said the Congress will now finalise its candidates for the seven seats by Wednesday.
The party had already cleared the names of four of its Lok Sabha candidates — Ajay Maken from New Delhi, Kapil Sibal from Chandni Chowk, J P Agarwal from North East Delhi and Raj Kumar Chauhan from North West Delhi.
It is planning to field former Delhi Chief Minister and DPCC president Sheila Dikshit from East Delhi, wrestler Sushil Kumar and former MP Mahabal Mishra from South and West Delhi seats.
AAP has declared candidates from all seven seats in the capital, despite alliance talks being on. The process in the BJP is still underway.
The nomination process started on Tuesday, where 12 candidates filed their papers from seven constituencies.
The fact that the nomination process has started could lend some urgency to alliance talks, party sources said. The last date for filing nominations is April 23. The final list of candidates will be declared on April 26.