AAP’s Congress dilemma is that there is no neat give-and-take scenario

While AAP wants to talk shop with the Congress, their current positions in Punjab and Delhi make striking any seat-sharing deal a tricky proposition

Updated - June 22, 2023 10:37 pm IST

Published - June 22, 2023 10:23 pm IST - New Delhi

AAP leaders say fighting the 2024 Lok Sabha election along with Congress will not be easy because the two parties will have to square up against each other in the 2025 Delhi Assembly elections. 

AAP leaders say fighting the 2024 Lok Sabha election along with Congress will not be easy because the two parties will have to square up against each other in the 2025 Delhi Assembly elections.  | Photo Credit: File

Ahead of Friday’s meeting of the Opposition parties in Patna, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders told The Hindu that a lot hinges on unity among these parties considering two of its top leaders are in jail as undertrials and more leaders could be “targeted” by the Central government.

The party has also taken a decision to agree with ‘one opposition, one seat’ formula for the Lok Sabha election, multiple leaders said.

AAP leaders also said fighting the 2024 Lok Sabha election along with Congress will not be easy because the two parties will have to square up against each other in the 2025 Delhi Assembly elections. Seat sharing in Delhi and Punjab – where AAP is the strongest – with the Congress will also be a tricky issue.

“Opposition unity is extremely important for us. The BJP will finish AAP and even jail [party chief Arvind] Kejriwal if it comes back to power [in 2024],” an AAP leader said.

On seat sharing, the leader said AAP would be ready to give three out of seven seats in Delhi but take the lion’s share in Punjab “as Congress is not strong there”.

In the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha election, an attempt at seat sharing in Delhi and Haryana between AAP and Congress didn’t materialise and the BJP won all seven seats in Delhi. The Congress came second in five seats despite having no MLA in the House while AAP, with a crushing majority of 66 of the 70 Delhi Assembly seats, was runner-up in only two Lok Sabha constituencies.

Similarly in Punjab, out of the 13 Lok Sabha seats, Congress won eight in 2019 and AAP only one, but the former won only 18 seats in the 2022 Assembly election as AAP swept to power with 92 seats.

The AAP leader said given their dominant position in their Punjab and Delhi Assemblies, they will have to convince not only their own cadre about teaming up with the Congress for 2024 but also the public in 2025 when the parties contest against each other in Delhi.

Mixed messaging

The situation is complicated further by AAP’s mixed messaging vis-a-vis Congress. While demanding Congress support for its campaign against the Centre’s Delhi ordinance, the party hasn’t shied away from attacking it over different issues in Delhi and other election-bound States.

“There is a conflict. But when you’re fighting an election in a State, you’ll have to do it. Congress is also doing it. That is what we have to sit down and resolve,” reasoned another senior AAP leader.

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