Congress, AAP move closer to sealing the seat-sharing deal

The crucial seat sharing talks between the Congress and the AAP for states of Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Goa and Delhi progressed well with AAP convenor Gopal Rai stating that seat-sharing formula would be finalised in the subsequent meeting.  A report by Pawan Kumar Bansal

Leaders of INDIA alliance partners insisted on rising above petty considerations for achieving the goal of ousting ‘communal and anti-minorities’ BJP from the power. Although inducting former Haryana CM Om Parksh Chautala-led Indian National Lok Dal into the alliance in Haryana was not officially discussed in the meeting but there was broader consensus on the issue which will be taken up later on. It is believed that once Bihar CM Nitish Kumar joins as convenor of the INDIA alliance, the issue of including INLD in the alliance be addressed. Nitish Kumar had a good relationship with Devi Lal, former deputy Prime Minister, who was the architect of the anti-Congress alliance, thirty four years back.

Nitish Kumar is pursuing the issue of inducting INLD into INDIA bloc in Haryana. Gopal Rai told newsmen in Delhi after the talks that out of these five states, AAP does not have a presence in the Haryana assembly. It is interesting to mention here that the Aam Aadmi party in Haryana had suffered serious set-back with former Haryana Minister Nirmal Singh and his daughter Chitra Sarwara, who held key positions in the party, subsequently  quitting the party and joining the Congress. More senior leaders of the party are reportedly in touch with both Congress as well as BJP, and may quit the party any time. AAP has sixty two out of seventy MLAs in Delhi: Ninety two out of one hundred seventeen in Punjab: four out of one hundred eighty two in Gujarat and two out of forty in Goa. Beaming Gopal Rai said that discussions were positive and we will contest the elections as alliance partners of INDIA to defeat NDA.

Congress general secretary Mukal Wasnik, National Alliance Committee member Ashok Gehlot, Delhi and Haryana incharge Deepak Babaria, Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee chief Arvind Singh Lovely, AAP national general secretary Sandeep Pathak and Delhi ministers Atishi and Saurabh Bhardwaj attended the meeting held in Delhi. Gopal Rai said that the seat sharing issue will be discussed in the next round of meetings. The Punjab Unit of Congress party had opposed alliance with AAP in Punjab accusing Bhagwan Maan-led Punjab government of indulging in politics of “vendetta ” against its leadership, but their views were brushed aside  by the national leadership.

Political analyst Dr. Ramesh Madaan told Tehelka that it will be win-win situation for both the Congress and AAP adding that key elements crucial for successful political alliance and strategies in the contemporary scenario includes open communication and coordination between alliance partners, common goals, understand regional and sub-regional dynamics, empowering local leadership at booth level, flexibility in seat allocation, fair representation, negotiation and accommodation and joint campaigning, adding that if alliance partners followed these guidelines, they could give tough fight to the NDA in ensuing Lok Sabha.

According to sources, Congress will contest on seven out of 10 Lok Sabha seats leaving the rest for the Indian National Lok Dal and AAP. In the last elections, all the 10 Congress candidates, including former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda and his son Deepender Hooda had lost elections to BJP candidates. This time also, Union Home Minister, Amit Shah is working on repeating the past performance and at a recent rally had appealed to people of Haryana to gift 10 lotus flowers to the party, implying to get all the 10 BJP candidates elected.

Although Bhupinder Singh Hooda is still reluctant to the idea of the alliance with INLD arguing that Congress is capable of contesting on all the ten seats, it is believed that national leadership will ignore his objections as it strongly feels the necessity of alliance after defeat in Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh.