Oppn leaders' pressure didn't work on Congress

Oppn leaders' pressure didn't work on Congress

Speculation was rife in political circles in the capital for the past few days and even as latest as Tuesday morning with theories like AAP and Congress sharing three seats each and leaving the seventh to a common candidate like Yashwant Sinha floating ar

The Congress decision to go solo in the Lok Sabha elections in Delhi and Punjab ignoring Aam Aadmi Party's invite to fight together has come as a jolt to the Arvind Kejriwal-led party, which believed that Opposition leaders' pressure will force the former to take a "pragmatic decision".

Speculation was rife in political circles in the capital for the past few days and even as latest as Tuesday morning with theories like AAP and Congress sharing three seats each and leaving the seventh to a common candidate like Yashwant Sinha floating around.

However, by noon, the fog surrounding the alliance was cleared by Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit, prompting Kejriwal to angrily tweet that Congress and BJP have entered into an "unholy alliance" at a time when the country "wants to defeat" Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo.

"...Congress is helping BJP by splitting anti-BJP vote. Rumours are that Congress has some secret understanding with BJP...People will defeat this unholy alliance," Kejriwal tweeted.

Later at a press conference, AAP's senior leader Gopal Rai raised the pitch by claiming that the Congress' actions in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal were detrimental to the Opposition efforts to defeat Modi-led BJP.

"Congress is deliberately going against the mood of the nation. Today every Indian wants to defeat the BJP, except Congress. Not just in Delhi, Congress is helping BJP in UP against the SP-BSP alliance, they are helping BJP in West Bengal against Mamata Banerjee as well," Rai said.

AAP has been expecting an alliance with Congress in Delhi to tide over the possible split in anti-BJP votes as it feared that a triangular contest would be helpful for the saffron party. Kejriwal himself was keen but Delhi Congress was adamant that it did not want any coalition.

Citing vote shares, Kejriwal had last month said that if there are two candidates against BJP in Delhi's seven seats, it would end up benefiting the saffron party. Earlier in January, he said a vote for Congress would mean that BJP wins Delhi and later party posters saying "to defeat BJP, vote only for AAP" appeared across Delhi.

Sources said AAP was not willing to give more than two seats to Congress, which the latter resented, and had even announced its candidates for six out of seven seats. However, sources said this could be changed in case the parties worked out an alliance.

However, sources said Congress was in no mood and AAP's insistence that Punjab should also be part of the package sealed the fate of the alliance. In Punjab, AAP has four MPs but Congress' Punjab unit under Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was against any such move.

Opposition leaders like CPI(M)'s Sitaram Yechury, Trinamool Congress' Mamata Banerjee, NCP's Sharad Pawar and TDP's N Chandrababu Naidu had sought impress upon the Congress the need for an alliance in Delhi but party chief Rahul Gandhi said he would go by his party unit's decision.

Many in the Opposition camp has viewed this as a setback to the plans to have a united fight against the ruling BJP, which is riding high on a campaign based on nationalism following the Pulwama terror strikes and subsequent air strikes.

Congress had last month itself indicated that there could be no alliance with AAP, which was amplified by Kejriwal when he said that Congress has said “an almost no” to plans for a coalition. In the meetings of Opposition leaders on February 13 and 27, several leaders pleaded with Congress leadership but the local unit stood its ground through central leaders were in favour of an alliance.