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Congress Split over Allying with AAP for 2019 Elections



The Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav, TMC’s (Trinamool Congress) face Mamata Banerjee, and even the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu, all the big names want Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP for support in an alliance for the general elections in 2019.

However, the second-largest party in the country INC is having a difference of opinion on this with the party’s Delhi unit Chief Ajay Maken, who is strongly opposing any tie-up.

The Congress is currently in a fix over the inclusion of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in their proposed grand alliance to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s NDA in 2019. Such an internal tiff perfectly highlights one of the fundamental problems with grouping of such varied members.

Another section in the INC party is favouring an alliance with the AAP in only three states—Delhi, Punjab, and Haryana. The leaders of this particular section are of the thought that Congress and AAP actually have a common agenda of ousting the BJP from power at the Centre and hence, the two parties together could attain electoral dividends in Delhi, Punjab, and Haryana and weaken BJP’s base in these cities where Kejriwal’s party has a “considerable” support base.

“When you are fighting a big battle against a vicious enemy, small issues have to be put on the back burner. We have to show large heartedness and take everybody along in this fight and especially when the objective is same,” said a Congress leader who favours a tie-up with the AAP for 2019 and who asked not to be identified.

However, Delhi Chief Ajay Maken blames the Aam Aadmi Party for the rise of the Bhartiya Janta Party nationally.  “The AAP is not a secular party at all. During the Anna Hazare movement, all of its leaders sided with Baba Ramdev and Kiran Bedi and they were responsible for bringing Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister. Moreover, the AAP is highly discredited now and its graph is consistently going down. Why should we come to its rescue?” he questioned.

The JD(S) leader and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda invited Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to HD Kumaraswamy’s swearing-in ceremony at Bengaluru last month for this very tactical reason. It was a cordial step-up to inviting AAP to be a part of the alliance.

Some of the parties mentioned above are expected to step up their efforts in brokering peace between the Congress and the AAP in the coming days.

According to analysts, it is almost inconceivable to think of the TMC and the Left parties, bitter enemies in West Bengal, to be part of the same grand alliance at the national level. They perceive this grand collaboration as a highly utopian idea.

While Arvind Kejriwal is not involved in these alliance talks, AAP leader and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh is in the process of meeting leaders of different opposition parties to further discuss the strategy for 2019 elections.

Political observers say that the time has come for localised regional alliances to take the stage.

“The Congress should come to an understanding with AAP in the specific context of Delhi and Punjab. It should talk about having a concrete agenda and come to an agreement to face the common challenge,” said Delhi-based political analyst Professor Balveer Arora.

“Burying the past is often difficult and not too much time should be spent on it. What is important is to understand the context they will facing the future and take a decision accordingly.”