AAP's wish for alliance rebuffed by Congress

Delhi Congress President Ajay Maken, PTI file photo

With the Congress open to alliances to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha elections next year, Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has tried to test waters for a pre-poll understanding only to be rebuffed by the grand old party.

The central leaders of the Congress did entertain thoughts of accommodating Kejriwal in the anti-BJP coalition after the Delhi chief minister shared a stage with Opposition leaders at the swearing-in ceremony of Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy on May 23.

Kejriwal is learnt to have complained to the Congress leaders about the AAP being treated as a pariah when it came to taking on the BJP.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi is learnt to have consulted party leaders associated with the Delhi Congress only to be told that Kejriwal's graph in the capital was on a decline.

"We are the real opposition to the AAP and the BJP in Delhi. The AAP is losing ground fast," P C Chacko, AICC in-charge of Delhi, told DH when asked about coalition talks with the AAP.

Ajay Maken presented a comparison of the vote share of the AAP and the Congress in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the 2015 Assembly elections and the 2017 Delhi civic polls to argue that Kejriwal's popularity was on the decline.

"When the people of Delhi are continuously rejecting the Kejriwal government, why should we come to their rescue? After all, Kejriwal, with the support of the RSS, Baba Ramdev, V K Singh and Kiran Bedi helped create the monster that is Modi," Maken told reporters here.

The speculation over the Congress and AAP agreeing to bury the hatchet began after Kejriwal appointed party in-charges to five of the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi leaving out New Delhi and West Delhi constituencies.

This prompted the BJP to say that two seats had been left for the Congress.

This was followed by a tweet from Kejriwal praising Manmohan Singh as the "educated Prime Minister" people sorely missed.

The comments raised eyebrows in political circles as it was Kejriwal who had played a role in the downfall of the UPA government through his anti-corruption movement in 2011.

"I am the Pradesh Congress Committee chief. If any talks take place, will I not be aware?" Maken shot back when asked about the AAP's claims that the central leadership of the Congress was in touch with its leaders for a pre-poll alliance.

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