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INDIA may win in Delhi but Congress would lose turf to AAP

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By Sidharth Mishra

The developments during the past week clearly show that the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) may break the bread together during the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. The two parties, going by pure mathematics, as components of the new opposition coalition - Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), may win all the seven seats in Delhi.

Delhi has seven Lok Sabha seats and the BJP has been winning all the seven seats in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The AAP was placed second during the 2014 polls and the Congress pushed ahead and moved to the second position on five seats in the 2019 polls. Prior to that Congress had won all the seven in 2009 and six in 2004.

During the 2014 polls, the combined vote share of the Congress and the AAP was more than that of the BJP. However, in 2019, the BJP was far ahead of the combined vote share of AAP and Congress. Given such performances in the past, it could be difficult for the BJP to win all the seven seats in 2024 Lok Sabha polls with the AAP and the Congress fighting together.

However, the elections are not predicted alone on the basis of vote shares in the past polls but also the potential of the candidates in the poll fray. During the 2019 Lok Sabha polls both the Congress and the AAP failed to put up formidable candidates on all the seven seats against BJP’s sitting members of parliament on five seats.

On the two seats that they changed candidates – North West Delhi and East Delhi, the replacements were much more formidable then the outgoing member. In North West contested folk-pop singer Hanraj Hans and in East Delhi, former India cricketer Gautam Gambhir.

While in 2014, following the successful Anna Hazare movement, a shining bright AAP was able to field some very prominent names in the polls – JNU professor Anand Kumar, journalist Ashutosh, social activist and scholar Rajmohan Gandhi among others. By 2019 all these faces had exited from the AAP. Thus the ruling party of Delhi city could field a very weak team.

The question at hand is, in the event of the two parties contesting together, what would be the ratio of distribution of tickets. At least four prominent faces of the Congress from the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, are still available to contest – former Union Minister Ajay Maken, former Delhi Congress president JP Agarwal, former Delhi Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely and former MP Sandeep Dikshit, his late mother Sheila Dikshit had contested the 2019 polls.

The fifth prominent Congress candidate in 2019 polls, former MP Mahabal Mishra, has since travelled to the AAP. If AAP was to agree to the Congress being the senior partner, and also agree to the aforementioned seats, then it would be left to contest South Delhi, West Delhi and North-West Delhi.

In the 2019 polls, in South and North-West Delhi, AAP was on the second position and Mahabal Mishra, then in Congress and now in AAP, was second placed in West Delhi. Mishra’s son is AAP’s MLA from Dwarka assembly seat. The bigger problem would be that whether AAP’s prominent face Raghav Chadha, now a Rajya Sabha member from Punjab, agree to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Delhi.

The problems for the AAP doesn’t end there. With its most prominent faces after chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, former ministers Manish Sisodia and Satyender Jain cooling heels in Tihar jail, the poll campaign management to would be a challenging task.

 

But knowing Kejriwal, he would not easily cede senior partner position in the alliance in Delhi to the Congress. In that condition, Congress would stand to lose turf.

     

(First Published in The Morning Standard)  

 

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