Congress leaders from Delhi, Punjab express reservation about poll pact with AAP
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge has assured the party leaders that the state units will be consulted before taking any decision on poll pacts
Congress Working Committee (CWC) members from Punjab and Delhi have expressed reservations about the party’s poll alliance with the Aam Admi Party (AAP) at the meeting of the extended CWC in Hyderabad on Sunday, people familiar with the matter said.
The leaders alleged that the AAP is attempting to fight polls in states where the Congress had been the traditional rival of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Some of the Congress leaders present in the meeting also said that while the AAP is trying to fight polls in Congress-ruled states such as Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, their campaign is entirely focused against the Congress and not the BJP.
After at least three leaders spoke against the AAP over the two days of the CWC meeting, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge announced that the state units will be consulted before taking any decision on poll pacts.
The reservation among a section of the Congress also comes amid the INDIA alliance’s efforts to wrap up the seat sharing talks at the earliest.
On September 13, the INDIA bloc’s coordination committee asked the state units to start seat negotiations that would cover the upcoming assembly polls and the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. While the committee announced seats talks should conclude “at the earliest”, two leaders added that the state units will be informally asked to finish the talks by end of October.
Earlier, in the Mumbai meeting of the Opposition parties on September 1, AAP national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was among the four leaders—others included West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar—who pushed for early completion of seat adjustments.
A Delhi-based Congress leader told HT that in both Delhi and Punjab, “The Congress unit would be decimated if we enter into any seat pacts with AAP.”
“If you look at both states, AAP has won primarily at the cost of the Congress. Our cadres will be demoralised. In the past, AAP contested in states such as Goa and even in Karnataka to eat into the Congress’ vote share,” the leader said.
While the AAP has informally agreed to give two seats to the Congress in Delhi, seat negotiations are expected to be tough for the INDIA alliance in Delhi, Punjab and West Bengal.