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AAP offers Congress just one seat in Delhi for Lok Sabha elections | Latest News India

AAP offers Congress just one seat in Delhi for Lok Sabha elections | Latest News India

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Tuesday said it wants to contest six of the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi and is ready to give one seat to the Congress as part of alliance dharma, adding that the INDIA bloc partner didn’t deserve to contest any constituency in the Capital based on its recent electoral performances.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal during the INDIA alliance meeting, in New Delhi in December. (ANI)

The announcement deals yet another blow to the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), which has already suffered setbacks with the exit of the Janata Dal (United) and the decision of the AAP and the Trinamool Congress to go it alone in Punjab and West Bengal respectively.

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All seven seats in Delhi are currently held by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which won a whopping 57% of the vote in 2019.

In a press conference, AAP national general secretary (organisation) Sandeep Pathak also announced candidates for two Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat and one in Goa. He said that the AAP wants to contest eight of the 26 seats in Gujarat, and one of the two seats in Goa in alliance with the Congress, and blamed the latter for the delay in seat-sharing talks.

“Congress has zero Lok Sabha seats in Delhi, it has zero seats in the Delhi assembly. Out of 250 wards, the Congress won only nine seats in the (2022) MCD election. Even on a merit basis, the Congress party does not deserve a single seat according to the available data. But only data is not important. As per the alliance dharma and out of respect, we are ready to offer one seat to the Congress,” he said.

“We are not announcing candidates today. I hope that seat-sharing talks for Delhi are finalised soon so we can get to work. If no conclusion is made soon, in the next few days we will announce candidates for the six seats and start our work,” Pathak added.

The Congress reacted sharply, saying seat talks are not conducted in press conferences.

“The Congress is the largest partner of the INDIA alliance and a committee is working on the finer details of seat-sharing. In 2019, the Congress came second on five of the seven seats while AAP was third on five of the seven seats. In this election, we have already started groundwork, and we are gearing up to put up an unprecedented show this year,” said Delhi Congress unit chief Arvinder Singh Lovely.

“Neither the AAP nor the BJP have started preparations yet, but we have held multiple rallies including on major rally addressed by our national president Mallikarjun Kharge. Delhi Congress will follow whatever decision is taken by the Congress on seat-sharing,” Lovely added.

Pathak’s announcement came after the party’s political affairs committee led by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal met in Delhi on Tuesday.

The AAP has 62 MLAs in the 70-member Delhi assembly and the Congress has zero. However, in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, which the AAP and the Congress contested separately, the Congress was second on five seats and AAP was second on two.

As part of the INDIA bloc, the AAP and Congress have discussed seat-sharing arrangements for Goa, Gujarat, Haryana and Delhi, without any breakthrough.

On February 10, Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann announced that the AAP will go it alone in Punjab, which has 13 Lok Sabha seats.

Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor said that the AAP and the Congress did not trust each other.

“There is a serious trust crisis between the Congress and the AAP. Congress knows that AAP will betray it at the first opportunity and the AAP knows that the Congress will so the same. The people of Delhi have decided to give all the seven seats once again to the BJP because BJP is committed to their growth and development,” he said.

Pathak said Venzy Viegas will contest from the South Goa seat, while Chaitar Vasava and Umesh Bhai Makwana will fight from the Bharuch and Bhavnagar seats in Gujarat respectively. The South Goa seat is held by the Congress while both the seats in Gujarat are held by the BJP.

Pathak added that he was making the announcements with a heavy heart given no headway in the seat-sharing talks with the Congress.

Congress leaders did not respond to requests seeking comment on the matter.

Pathak said that the AAP won two seats in south Goa in the 2022 assembly elections.

“Both our MLAs are doing good work in South Goa and are quite popular there. So, keeping in mind the seat share and the winnability, the AAP has nominated its candidate for one (South Goa) seat and one parliamentary seat ticket must go to the Congress. Keeping that in mind, the AAP has today announced the candidature of Shri Venzy Viegas,” he said.

Goa has two Lok Sabha seats, held by the Congress and the BJP each. In 2022 assembly polls, the AAP won two seats, the Congress 11, while the BJP won 20s.

Pathak said that in Gujarat, the AAP won five seats with a 13% vote share, while the Congress got 17 seats with a 27% vote share. “If you look at it purely scientifically and on a merit basis, then the AAP should get one-third seats and the Congress should get two-thirds seats,” he said.

The BJP won all 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat in 2019. In the 2022 assembly elections, the BJP achieved its biggest victory in the state, winning 156 of the 182 seats in the state while the Congress was a distant second and the AAP stood third.

Pathak reiterated that his party will not ally with the Congress in Punjab, but added that his party continued to be part of the INDIA bloc, and expected that the alliance will accept the candidates the AAP has announced.

“We are with the INDIA alliance with all strength and all dedication, and we will dedicate all strength that we have to make the alliance successful. The purpose of the INDIA alliance is to contest the election, win the election and give the country a new (political) alternative,” said Pathak.

The AAP has already announced candidates for three seats in Assam, two in Gujarat and one in Goa.

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