Dynamic duo or desperate move? Alliance of rivals Congress and AAP look to challenge BJP’s stronghold in Delhi | India News

NEW DELHI: Delhi is casting votes today in the sixth phase to elect seven candidates to the Lok Sabha. The BJP, which won all seven seats in both the 2014 and 2019 elections, is confident of another victory in the national capital. In a bid to break BJP’s winning streak, its rivals Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal‘s AAP and the Congress, which contested separately in the previous polls, have joined forces.However, the data shows that even their combined might may not be enough to defeat the BJP in most of the seats.
Once rivals, Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party reached a seat-sharing agreement in late February after weeks of political conflict and deliberation. Both parties acknowledged their shared goal of defeating the PM Modi-led BJP and recognized the strategic advantage of their alliance in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. However, the perception that AAP went back on its stance by partnering with a party it vehemently opposed during its inception is intensifying its existing challenges.
In the 2014 general elections, the combined votes of Congress and AAP in six of the seven seats in Delhi outnumbered those of the BJP. However, by 2019, the BJP managed to secure more votes than the combined tally of the two parties in all seven seats. As the BJP was far ahead of both the parties individually in both the elections, a united front was the only way that the parties could potentially alter the electoral dynamics.
In the 2019 general elections, the BJP secured 57% of the vote, Congress garnered 23%, AAP received 18%, and other parties accounted for 2%. In contrast, the 2020 state elections saw AAP’s vote share surging to 54%, Congress’ vote share dropping to 4%, while the BJP received 39% and other parties remained at 3%. This stark variation in vote percentages within just a year is what the opposition parties are banking upon for the upcoming polls.

From the outset, the alliance between AAP and Congress displayed visible fissures. However, Kejriwal’s arrest in connection with the liquor policy case gave the opposition parties a moment to show signs of unity in the otherwise broken INDIA bloc.
Initially, many Delhi Congress leaders, including Arvinder Singh Lovely (who eventually resigned and joined the BJP), opposed the partnership. Now, however, this alliance is viewed more favorably, with Congress candidates hoping to garner sympathy and support after the Delhi chief minister’s arrest.
In the 2024 general elections, the AAP will contest on four seats: East Delhi, West Delhi, South Delhi, and New Delhi. The Congress will contest on the remaining three seats: Chandni Chowk, North East Delhi, and North West Delhi.

What’s in it for Congress?
AAP, which emerged as a formidable political force in Delhi, did so largely at the expense of Congress. In the 2015 Delhi Assembly elections, AAP’s vote share surged to 54.3% from 29.5% in 2013, while Congress saw its vote share plummet from 24.5% to less than 10%. The trend continued in the 2020 Assembly polls, where Congress’ vote share dipped further, suggesting that AAP’s support base largely comprised former Congress voters. The alliance with AAP offers Congress a lifeline in Delhi offering it an opportunity to regain some of its lost ground and increase its influence in the capital.
What’s in it for AAP?
For AAP, the alliance is crucial to maintain its political relevance on the national stage. AAP emerged as a significant opposition to the BJP in the 2014 elections. AAP at 32.90% vote share was just behind the BJP which had polled 46.40% votes. However, its voter base declined in 2019, with Congress seeing an uptick in its vote share. This shift suggested that while AAP was initially perceived as a viable alternative to the BJP, this perception weakened over time. By aligning with Congress, AAP hopes to consolidate anti-BJP votes and enhance its prospects in the 2024 general elections.
Rivals in Punjab, friends in Delhi
Ironically, despite forming an alliance in Delhi, AAP and Congress remain political rivals in Punjab. Confident in their prospects in Punjab, they have chosen not to collaborate there. However, facing the BJP’s stronghold in Delhi, they have decided to unite, recognising their individual weaknesses in the capital.
The Congress-AAP alliance under the INDIA bloc is a move aimed at dethroning the BJP in Delhi. While the combined strength of the two parties offers a glimmer of hope for a formidable challenge, the success of this alliance will depend on their ability to effectively mobilize their voter bases, address internal dissent, and present a cohesive front against the BJP.

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