THE CITIZEN BUREAU | 15 MARCH, 2019
“Yes”, “No” To “Perhaps”: Congress Uses Shakti App to Re-Open Talks With AAP for Delhi
We can win all seats with an alliance, Ajay Maken tells The Citizen
NEW DELHI: The Congress leadership, caught between two strong leaders Sheila Dikshit and Ajay Maken, has again moved from a ‘no’ to a ‘perhaps’ on a possible alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi. Under pressure from civil society It has reportedly found a way out of impasse created by former chief minister Dikshit, by getting a ‘referendum’ from the Congress workers in the capital on the issue through its Shakti app.
The workers are reportedly in favour of an alliance with AAP, aware that it will be impossible to win even one of the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi without this understanding, The seat sharing formula that has been discussed by the two parties earlier followed a 3+3+1 formula, with the one being left for former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha or for that matter his BJP colleague filmstar and former MP Shatrughan Sinha.
This was the basis for initial talks between the Congress and AAP, at the instance of the regional parties and in particular Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee who brought them both to the drawing board. However, stiff opposition by Sheila Dikshit who currently seems to have the ear of Congress president Rahul Gandhi put an end to this initiative with the latter himself publicly declaring that there would not be an alliance with AAP because of the Congress workers opposition,
The story however, rests around a bitter feud between Sheila Dikshit and former Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken with the younger leader in favour of the alliance. From being totally opposed to AAP , Maken changed his position to support it. He told The Citizen, “I changed because after Pulwama and Balakote I realised that it was important as otherwise we could be gifting all seven seats to the BJP.” However, he was opposed by Dikshit who has been lobbying hard against the alliance with some workers insisting that this is more because she is against Maken and wants to oppose him.
As a result the Congress gave up the alliance, and with it possible victory in the national capital, with civil society organisations and individuals stepping in subsequently to exert pressure in favour of an alliance. Now with the use of Shakti App, the workers are hopeful of a shift in position, as this has been used earlier by the party to pick the Chief Ministers for Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership.
In fact Sheila Dikshit seemed to have been kept in the dark about the move that favours Maken’s position, and she told reporters that she had no idea that the party had asked for a feedback on this alliance. “They should have asked me first,” she said. After learning of it she did try to lobby with the party top brass, but has not succeeded in that the App is under operation for the feedback.
Maken, clearly happy with the new development said, this was as per “Rahulji’s wishes and guidance.” He said that Delhi was the national political barometer for the general elections, and whoever won the seats here ended up forming the government at the centre as well. Except for once, this has held true for all Lok Sabha polls.
Maken was also categorical that this alliance would not extend to Assembly and local body elections as “it does not need to, we can continue to build our party regardless. The burning necessity now is to defeat the BJP, for which we need to be together,” he said.The Congress-AAP alliance could win all seven seats in Delhi if the candidates are selected wisely.
Yashwant Sinha was keen on contesting from New Delhi that is Maken’s constituency. West Delhi can be on offer for either of the two BJP SInha’s but this has still to be discussed and decided. AAP is keen to contest four seats that the Congress, sources said, could be willing to accommodate. South Delhi, east Delhi, North East Delhi along with West Delhi are likely to be contested by AAP candidates, with the Congress fighting the Lok Sabha seats of North West Delhi, Chandni Chowk and New Delhi, if the alliance works out.
Most spoken to were agreed that without the alliance, the going would be very tough for the Congress party. As well as AAP. The scales would then tilt heavily in favour of the BJP that won all the seven seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.