The National Capital Territory of Delhi drew political attention of the entire nation on August 16, due to a very short-term problem that occurred in the early stages of the opposition INDIA alliance, which can be termed as only teething troubles. A ‘news hype’, a well-known term in the newsrooms, overblown the issue as if INDIA alliance is well neigh broken. However, the wisdom got precedence over certain political immaturities in both the Congress and AAP camps, and what seemed to be a major eruption subsided within hours. The lesson for INDIA alliance is: they need to tread carefully across the states and UTs while avoiding political immaturity.
Any new political alliance, or any new project whatsoever, happens to have teething troubles in its early stages. Therefore, there was nothing serious in respect of the Congress and the AAP leaders to say that they were preparing to contest all the Lok Sabha seats in Delhi, until they reach an agreement on seat sharing. AAP had declared it for several times in the past, and now Congress leader Alka Lamba said it on Wednesday.
Alka Lamba’s statement was considered significant since she was spokesperson of the Delhi Pradesh Congress. Her statement was understood more than it actually meant – first by the media people, and then by the AAP spokesperson Priyanka Kakkar, who overreacted as if Lamba’s words “to be ready” in all seven seats meant Congress plan “to contest” in all seats in Delhi.
AAP spokesperson Priyanka Kakkar’s overreaction was obvious in her statement, “If they do not want an alliance in Delhi, then going to INDIA meeting is pointless and a waste of time. Out top leadership will decide whether we have to attend the next INDIA meeting.”
The war of words between leaders of both the Congress and AAP sides was presented with news hype implying that INDIA alliance has landed into serious trouble on account of the respective adamant stance of the Congress and AAP in contesting Lok Sabha election in Delhi.
However, within hours, AICC’s Delhi in-charge Deepak Babaria, clarified that Alka Lamba has not said anything on polls that is what she has reported me. He also said that she in a spokesperson but she is not an authorized spokesperson for talking on such important issues. “I feel that there are immature people in Aam Admi Party,” he said while responding to AAP leader’s overreaction which was based on merely media reports. He also said that no discussion over the matter related to elections and the alliance were held during the elaborate meeting at the party headquarters.
Earlier, AAP leader Saurabh Bharadwaj had given a mature response and said that seat sharing will be decided by the central leadership and both AAP’s political affairs committee and INDIA parties would discuss them.
Now, Alka has said that her statement on Congress preparing on all seven seats in Delhi had no mention of having or not having any alliance with anyone. “What is the controversy about?” she questioned while reproducing her statement, “First, the discussion was on the organisation — what are the weak points, how to strengthen etc. Then the discussion was on the Lok Sabha election from Delhi. There have been similar meetings in 18 states. We have been told to be ready in all seven seats as seven months are left. We will start working from today because whoever has Delhi has the country.”
It should be noted here that Alka Lamba has been in Congress since her rejoining the party in 2019. In between 2014 and 2019 she was in AAP. She was in Congress before her joining AAP in 2014. She has been insider in both the parties and may be knowing the ground level political realities of the respective parties.
Given the political situation prevailing on the ground today, both the Congress and AAP cannot afford to have split of anti-BJP votes to their own destruction. It is clear from the vote share trend in the recent few elections, especially since the Lok Sabha election 2019.
Congress’ vote share in 2019 was 22.63 per cent, AAP’s 18.2 per cent, and BJP’s 56 per cent. In 2020 Vidhan Sabha election Congress vote share was reduced to merely 4.26 per cent, while AAP’ vote share jumped to 53.57 per cent, and BJP’s vote share shrank to 38.51 per cent.
The most recently, in the MCD election 2022, Congress’ vote share was 11.68 per cent which was an increase from 2020 Vidhan Sabha election indicating that Congress is slowly improving. AAP’s vote share was 42.05 per cent which was over 10.50 per cent decline compared to its share in 2020 Vidhan Sabha election, which indicates a deterioration of AAP’s clout in Delhi. As for the BJP is concerned its votes share was 39.09 per cent implying its influence among votes has almost stagnated compared to 2020 Vidhan Sabha election when it gained 38.51 per cent. Congress and AAP, thus know, if they could offer joint contest, they could defeat BJP in all 7 seats that it holds now. However, if they do not enter into seat sharing arrangement, winning even a single seat would be difficult to them.
It is in this backdrop both the political parties – Congress and AAP – cannot afford to be idle and disunited. Therefore, they would be preparing in all the seven seats. Such preparations do not mean that the doors for seat sharing arrangements between the two has been closed. Both the political parties know their respective strengths in the state, and it would be in their own interest to enter into seat sharing arrangement at appropriate time. In the meantime, they may claim all seats in Delhi but only to get more seats to jointly contest.
There is no denying the fact that the Congress and AAP have come closer to each other especially since the first meeting of INDIA alliance held in Patna on June 23, 2023. The bond between the two have become stronger by the second meeting in Bengaluru held on July 17-18. The Congress opposed the Delhi Services Bill in the Parliament, for which AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal thanked the Congress and its leadership. Third meeting is going to be held in soon in Mumbai, perhaps by the end of August or beginning of September. (IPA Service)