The Congress has said no to an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Delhi Congress president Sheila Dikshit said the decision was “unanimous”, while AAP chief and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal accused the Congress of working to split anti-BJP votes.
ThePrint asks: Is the failure of AAP and Congress to form an alliance political myopia or does Congress consider it risky to tie up with Arvind Kejriwal?
After UP, Bihar and West Bengal, Congress was short-sighted and self-centred in Delhi
Dilip K. Pandey
Leader, Aam Aadmi Party
The Aam Aadmi Party is approaching the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from a completely different perspective. For us, the election is not about party politics. We want to put the country first.
The ruling dispensation, the Bharatiya Janata Party, is a danger not only to the Constitution but also to the democracy. This is what we had kept in mind when we decided to form a front against the BJP. We have put party politics aside, and tried to protect our country from the BJP, the common enemy that we all have to fight.
However, it seems that the Congress is still working with its own interest in mind. A bizarre trend emerges if you look at the Congress’ approach to other strong opposition parties. In Uttar Pradesh, when the SP and BSP came together to fight against the BJP, the Congress went silent. A similar approach was taken towards RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav in Bihar, and TMC’s Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal.
Wherever the opposition wants to stand strong against the BJP, the Congress takes a different approach. They are sending a mixed message. People will ask, ‘Why is the Congress helping the BJP?’ In the Jind by-poll, their candidate acted as the ‘vote-cutter’, came in third and helped the BJP win.
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Whether they trust AAP national convenor and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal or not is all about speculation. It is the Congress that has said no to the alliance, and twice now. The Congress is being short-sighted and self-centred.
Arvind Kejriwal wants to piggyback on the Congress to stay relevant
Former political secretary to Sheila Dikshit and spokesperson, Congress
Alliances are formed based on several reasons, and the foremost among them is electoral prospects.
The Congress party has decided not to go in for an alliance in Delhi. And, liberals have been articulating their anguish over this decision. Perhaps, they need to be reminded of Arvind Kejriwal’s raison d’etre in politics – anti-Congressism.
In the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the Anna movement in Delhi was a well-timed drama meant to whip up anger against the UPA government. The very visible involvement of Sangh-supported foundations left no doubt in the minds of people as to who would be the ultimate beneficiary of the Lokpal movement. Arvind Kejriwal showed no ideological aversion whatsoever in aligning with the Sangh to dislodge the Congress.
One who had aligned with all the anti-Congress elements to help the BJP come to power in 2014 is now accusing the Congress of helping the BJP. The ways of politics have always been strange, but this is a new normal.
In 2013, the Congress’ vote share in Delhi was 24.5 per cent. It plummeted to single digits in 2015. Since then, it has shown definite improvement in the corporation election and the assembly bypolls. Kejriwal’s AAP contested elections in Punjab, Goa, Gujarat and Rajasthan. While the party is losing its support base in Punjab, other states have vehemently rejected it.
The AAP is getting desperate, and Arvind Kejriwal can see the writing on the wall. He wants to piggyback on the Congress to stay relevant.
Congress realised an alliance with AAP will lead to loss of support
Manjinder Singh Sirsa
MLA, BJP Delhi
Broadly, there are two reasons why the attempts at forming this alliance didn’t succeed.
First, the Congress realised that when it comes to ground zero, there is very little support for the party and it will lose even that if it forms an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Even if the two parties were to form an alliance, the Congress would not have won any seats. Neither the Congress volunteers will support the AAP, nor will the AAP volunteers ever campaign for the Congress.
Second, the Congress realised that if it rejects the offer to form this alliance, it will at least save its face in front of the party followers.
In the upcoming 2019 elections, the Congress will, at least, be able to say that it rejected the alliance with the AAP because the latter is known to be a fraud party.
As far as the AAP is concerned, the image and credibility of Arvind Kejriwal is completely tarnished. People now see how much of an opportunist he is. He changes his colours faster than a chameleon.
Not too long ago, he kept rambling about how the BJP and the Congress were colluding against the AAP. And today, he is pleading with the Congress form an alliance. Arvind Kejriwal’s image is the biggest casualty in this entire exercise. The voters don’t trust him anymore.
AAP’s immaturity doesn’t leave any elbow room for renegotiation
Co-founder of satyahindi.com and former AAP member
The AAP has shown a lot of immaturity while negotiating with the Congress for an alliance in Delhi. Just after Sheila Dikshit announced that the Congress won’t have any seat-sharing pact with the AAP, Arvind Kejriwal put out a tweet, suggesting that the Congress was trying to help Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. The tweet was not required. The AAP’s official Twitter handle started a hashtag #CongressHelpingBJP. This was also not required.
The AAP and the Congress have an uneasy past. The AAP formed the government in Delhi at the cost of the Congress. Both parties share the same social base, and there is serious trust deficit between them. Not too long ago, Rahul Gandhi had refused to share dais with Arvind Kejriwal.
If both the parties were now talking to each other due to electoral compulsions, it was a positive development. Therefore, Arvind Kejriwal should not have tweeted against the Congress despite Dikshit’s announcement. He did not leave any elbow room for renegotiation. Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand, has not uttered a single word.
But Rahul Gandhi should also realise that not stitching an alliance with the AAP will prove costly for him personally, and for the Congress in general. If Narendra Modi comes back as the prime minister, it could mean the end of Rahul Gandhi’s career as a politician. Same could be true for Kejriwal as well. It is nothing but stupidity if both the leaders are unaware of this due to their big egos and non-understanding of the political reality.
Both AAP, Congress have placed their interests ahead of commitment to secular politics
Editor, Rise of Saffron Power and assistant professor, Jamia Milia Islamia
The Congress and the AAP’s failure to form a pre-poll alliance in Delhi for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections reflects the ideological bankruptcy in both the parties over their commitment to secular politics. It is apparent that both have placed their interests ahead of everything else.
Without doubt, the alliance would have rooted out the BJP from the capital, and created space for secular politics. The relationship between the AAP and the Congress has been deeply hostile and the wounds are still very fresh. This is not the case in Tamil Nadu or Uttar Pradesh or even in West Bengal, where the Congress has reconciled with its marginal presence, making it easier to form alliances.
In Delhi, the Congress leaders, particularly the state leadership, hope to regain the lost ground, and an alliance during the Lok Sabha election would have made it difficult for them to fight the AAP in the next assembly election.
The Congress has to choose from 70 aspirants for the seven Lok Sabha tickets. In a scenario like this, an alliance would have led to dissent within the party. It perhaps feared that the party leaders and their supporters would leave the Congress and gravitate towards the BJP. Some of these calculations might have encouraged the Congress to fight independently.
By Fatima Khan and Deeksha Bhardwaj.
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