Capital gains crucial to future of Congress-AAP alliance | India News

NEW DELHI: The outcome of elections to seven Lok Sabha seats in the capital is likely to have far-reaching political implications this time. The results of the direct fight between BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party-Congress combine will decide the future of the two alliance partners in Delhi politics, especially with the assembly elections just eight months away.Until 2013, when AAP contested its first assembly polls, the electoral fight in Delhi had been a direct contest between Congress and BJP.
Though BSP did manage to win a few wards in the 2007 municipal elections and a couple of seats in the 2008 assembly polls, it could never build on it to pose a serious threat to the two established players. AAP’s entry to electoral fray changed the equation and, in the 2013 Delhi assembly polls, the city witnessed a three-cornered fight for supremacy for the first time. The subsequent polls to Lok Sabha, Delhi assembly, and Municipal Corporation of Delhi saw AAP, BJP, and Congress vying for votes.
The ongoing general elections, however, have seen a change in dynamics with opposition parties cobbling up the INDIA bloc against BJP-led NDA. Both AAP and Congress are constituents of INDIA bloc and are jointly contesting the elections in Delhi. This has turned the electoral contest into a direct fight between BJP and the alliance. While AAP has fielded its candidates in four seats — New Delhi, East Delhi, South Delhi, and West Delhi — Congress is contesting Chandni Chowk, North East Delhi, and North West Delhi.
“There is a simple arithmetic behind the alliance. It is important to prevent the split of the antiBJP votes. Those who didn’t want to vote for the BJP earlier ended up voting for us or the Congress. It helped BJP candidates secure an easy victory,” said a senior AAP functionary, adding that the 2019 elections were different.
AAP national convener and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal also said the workers of the two parties at both senior level and on the ground have synchronised well and the joint campaign with the functionaries asking for votes for each other has worked well.
“The message has gone down clearly to everyone that this is not about voting for the party. This is about saving the country and the Constitution,” he told TOI.
The 2019 Lok Sabha polls saw BJP walk away with more than 56.7% of the total votes polled in the national capital. Congress got 22.6% while AAP could muster only 18.2%.
The scenario was slightly different in 2014. Back then, when BJP fought its first election with Narendra Modi as PM face, it got 46.4%. While AAP polled 33.1%, Congress had to settle for 15.2%. A senior Congress functionary said the last Lok Sabha polls saw many fence-sitters voting for BJP “to give the party yet another chance” to deliver on its promises. He claimed there was no apparent wave in favour of BJP and the govt was also facing antiincumbency, which could tilt the balance towards the alliance. If the ongoing trend of less voting continued in Delhi too, the alliance had a better chance, he asserted.
“A shift of 8-10% of votes of fence-sitters from the BJP in favour of the AAP-Congress alliance is what we are looking at. If BJP gets restricted to its traditional vote share, the purpose of forming the alliance and giving the saffron fold a direct fight will fructify,” said the Congress functionary.
This is not the first time the two parties have joined hands against BJP. With its eight MLAs in the assembly, Congress had helped AAP form its maiden govt in the capital in 2013. A keenly contested election saw BJP bettering the 2008 result and winning 32 seats with a 33.1% vote share, with debutant AAP polling 29.5% of the votes and winning 28 seats. The Congress tally plummeted to eight from 43, and its vote share from 40.3% to 24.6%. The AAP govt, however, survived for just 49 days with CM Kejriwal resigning over his failure to table the Jan Lokpal bill in the assembly.
Congress and AAP toyed with the idea of having an alliance again in the 2019 LS polls, but informal parleys never reached the discussion table. The functionaries of the state unit of both parties were opposed to the idea, citing their opposition to each other in the assembly, civic polls and having a com mon voter base.
The alliance ahead of the 2024 polls was also finalised despite stiff resistance from their local functionaries who were not willing to cede their political space to the other. The decision to contest in partnership with AAP also saw a major upheaval in Congress, with a few functionaries calling it an “unholy alliance” and leaving the party.
While there have been several corruption allegations against AAP and its ministers now, some Delhi Congress functionaries argued that with the alliance, the party has virtually given them a clean chit. “We are siding with AAP now. How will we challenge their governance and policies and question the corruption cases against them only a few months later in the assembly polls?” asked a Delhi Congress functionary.
“We are asking for votes and support for a party, which is responsible for elbowing us out of Delhi politics. We’ll never be able to get our political space back,” he added.
The internal dynamics of Congress and AAP has made BJP hopeful. A BJP functionary said making AAP workers campaign for Congress candidates and vice versa was a difficult proposition. “Even people understand the alliance has no ideological backing. The hopefuls for tickets in assembly polls in both parties are not keen on supporting the other,” he said.

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