LS polls: AAP, Congress announce seat-sharing pact for Delhi, Gujarat, Goa, Haryana


PTI, Feb 24, 2024, 7:22 PM IST

New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party will contest four Lok Sabha seats in Delhi and the Congress three, the two constituents of the INDIA bloc said on Saturday as they announced their seat-sharing arrangements for the national capital, Gujarat, Goa and Haryana.

AAP General Secretary (organisation) Sandeep Pathak said his party entered into an alliance with the Congress by sidelining its own political interests as it believes that the ”country is important and the party secondary”.

The BJP termed the Congress-AAP tie-up as an alliance of the ”corrupt”, asserting that neither chemistry nor arithmetic favours the two parties against the NDA, the ruling combine led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Congress and the AAP are constituents of the INDIA bloc formed by opposition parties to take on the BJP in the upcoming general elections.

In a joint press conference here on Saturday, Congress leader Mukul Wasnik announced the AAP will contest the Lok Sabha seats of New Delhi, West Delhi, South Delhi and East Delhi while his party will fight in Chandni Chowk, northeast Delhi and the northwest Delhi seats.

He said the Congress workers in Delhi will ensure that INDIA bloc candidates win all seven seats in the national capital.

The BJP won all seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi in the 2014 and 2019 general elections. In the last Lok Sabha polls, BJP candidates in each of the seats polled more votes than Congress and AAP candidates combined.

Senior AAP leaders and ministers Saurabh Bhardwaj and Atishi, Delhi Congress president Arvinder Singh Lovely and AICC in-charge of Delhi Deepak Babaria were also present at the press conference.

According to the seat-sharing arrangement, the AAP will contest Bharuch and Bhavnagar seats in Gujarat while the Congress will field candidates on the remaining 24.

The Congress will contest both the Lok Sabha seats in Goa and the lone seat in Chandigarh, Wasnik said. The AAP had earlier declared its Benaulim MLA Venzy Viegas as its candidate for the South Goa Lok Sabha seat, currently held by Congress’ Francisco Sardinha. In Haryana, the Congress will contest nine of the 10 Lok Sabha seats while the AAP will field its candidate in Kurukshetra, Wasnik said.

He said that given the ”special circumstances” that exist in Punjab, the AAP and the Congress have decided to fight the Lok Sabha polls separately in the state.

About Gujarat’s Bharuch, where late Congress leader Ahmed Patel hailed from, Wasnik hoped that all Congress workers would respect the decision to give the seat to AAP.

”After taking into account all situations, we have decided this between the two parties. I have full confidence that each Congress worker will honour this decision and AAP workers will also follow this agreement,” he said.

The decision, however, did not go down well with Faisal Patel and Mumtaz Patel, the son and daughter of Ahmed Patel, who had won from the Bharuch seat three times in the 1970s and 1980s.

Faisal Patel said Congress workers were not happy with the decision to cede the seat under the INDIA alliance agreement, but added that he would abide by the decision of the Congress high command.

Asserting he would meet the party’s central leadership, Ahmed Patel’s son said, ”There is still a lot of time for nomination and election. A lot of things can still happen. My father did a lot for the people of Bharuch. This is our seat. The workers and I are against this alliance but we will accept whatever the party say.” Faisal Patel claimed he would win the seat if the Congress gave him ticket from Bharuch. He had earlier staked claim to contest from Bharuch, saying he and ”conscientious” Congress workers would not support the AAP candidate.

AAP’s Chaitar Vasava will contest from Bharuch and Umeshbhai Makwana from Bhavnagar.

Ahmed Patel’s daughter Mumtaz Patel issued an apology on social media to Congress workers and asked them to regroup to strengthen the party.

On the decision regarding Punjab, AAP leader Sandeep Pathak said, ”People are very intelligent and they understand everything.” The campaign strategy of the INDIA bloc will be discussed at a later stage, he said and asserted that the tie-up will upset the ”calculations and strategy” of the BJP.

Stressing that the opposition alliance was strong, Pathak said the polls would be fought by the INDIA bloc with AAP and Congress candidates contesting on different seats.

He also alleged that the BJP was eliminating institutions in the country and sending opposition leaders to jail to win the polls. Farmers have also been treated unjustly and people are suffering from inflation and unemployment, Pathak charged.

Addressing a press conference in Panaji, the Congress’ Goa unit president Amit Patkar and the AAP’s state chief Amit Palekar asked all opposition parties in the coastal state to join hands to defeat the BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Currently, the South Goa seat is held by the Congress, while the North Goa seat is with the BJP.

”I appeal to all those MLAs who sought votes against the BJP in the 2022 Assembly polls but then joined hands with the ruling party to support the opposition. The Revolutionary Goans Party must also join our alliance,” Patkar said.

Currently, the South Goa seat is held by the Congress, while the North Goa seat is with the ruling BJP.

Commenting on the seat-sharing agreement between the Congress and the AAP, BJP leader and Union minister Hardeep Puri said the most curious part of this ”dysfunctional” alliance is that ”they will be together in Delhi, but against each other in Punjab”.

”The path to hell (or in this case political oblivion!) is paved with skewed alliances,” he said in a post on X.

”If the opportunist alliance between the AAP and the Congress even manages to survive its inherent contradictions it will be the most bizarre political combination in every sense. One that tries to pull the wool over the eyes of their own voters,” Puri added.

Union Minister Meenakshi Lekhi and Delhi BJP chief Virendra Sachdeva told a press conference that in the states where the alliance matters, be it Gujarat, Haryana, Chandigarh, Goa or the national capital, the BJP had got well over 50 per cent votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

This ”corrupt” alliance will not work against those known for serving the people, Lekhi said, citing numerous allegations of corruption that AAP leaders had levelled against the Congress in the past.

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