New Delhi: It’s not over till it’s over. The Congress seems to be still weighing the benefits of an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for the upcoming Lok Sabha election, despite party president Rahul Gandhi and senior leader Sheila Dikshit’s recent comments denying any tie-up.
Thousands of Congress workers have received audio messages through the party’s Shakti platform, which serves as a digital interface between the cadres and high command, seeking their opinion on an alliance with the AAP, which currently holds power in Delhi, party sources told ThePrint.
The Shakti platform, also mined by the brass for feedback, is run by the Congress’ data analytics department.
According to a Congress worker who received the audio message, it says: “Mai P.C. Chacko, in-charge Delhi Congress, bol raha hu. BJP ko haraane ke liye kya Cong [sic] ko Aam Aadmi Party ke saath gathbandan karna chahiye (This is P.C. Chacko… Do you think the Congress should enter an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party to defeat the BJP in Delhi)?”
The Congress, which held all of Delhi’s seven Lok Sabha seats in the 15th Lok Sabha, saw a massive reversal of fortunes in the national capital in the 2014 general election, losing each of the constituencies to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The AAP was formed on the back of a movement, led by social activist Anna Hazare, against alleged corruption under the Congress-led UPA government, but the two parties have flirted with a tie-up before.
In the 2013 Delhi assembly election, which marked the AAP’s political debut, the BJP had emerged as the biggest player, with 32 of Delhi’s 70 assembly seats. The AAP won 28, and subsequently formed the government with the outside support of the Congress’ eight MLAs.
The Kejriwal government, however, resigned 49 days later, after all the non-AAP MLAs, including a JD(U) legislator and an Independent, opposed his bid to introduce the Jan Lokpal Bill in the assembly.
A year later, the AAP was back in office with a stunning majority, winning 67 of Delhi’s 70 seats in 2015.
The AAP and the Congress had for months been in talks for an alliance this Lok Sabha election, which starts 11 April, but Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee chief Dikshit refuted the possibility of a tie-up earlier this month after a meeting between local party members and the brass.
Dikshit’s stance on the alliance is at odds with the opinion of senior Congress leaders such as P.C. Chacko and former Union minister Ajay Maken, who are said to be open to the idea.
Earlier this week, on Monday, the Congress president had also hinted that there won’t be a tie-up with the AAP as he urged booth-level workers in Delhi to ensure the party wins all seven Lok Sabha seats in the national capital.
“The Congress has to win all the seven seats in Delhi. The booth-level workers have to ensure it,” Gandhi said, in his first public address after the Election Commission announced the Lok Sabha polls Sunday.
However, Gandhi did seem a bit guarded in criticising the AAP, as he blamed “two parties” for the sealing drive that has troubled Delhi’s trading community.
According to a senior Congress functionary, most workers are not in favour of an alliance with the AAP as they feel the party should focus on strengthening the state unit ahead of the assembly elections in Delhi next year.