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regular-article-logo Friday, 19 April 2024

AAP, Congress clinch seat deal in Delhi for Lok Sabha polls, INDIA bloc allies to go solo in Punjab

The two sides clinching seat sharing, particularly in AAP-ruled Delhi, was seen as a breakthrough for the INDIA bloc after two successive body blows owing to defections by Nitish Kumar’s JDU and Jayant Chaudhary-led RLD

J.P. Yadav New Delhi Published 25.02.24, 05:36 AM
AAP and Congress leaders at a joint media conference in New Delhi on Saturday.

AAP and Congress leaders at a joint media conference in New Delhi on Saturday. PTI picture

The AAP will contest four Lok Sabha seats in Delhi and leave the remaining three for the Congress while the two INDIA bloc partners will go solo in Punjab under a seat-sharing arrangement announced jointly on Saturday in four states and one Union territory.

Apart from Delhi, the two parties reached an understanding in Gujarat, Haryana, Goa and the Union Territory of Chandigarh, totalling 46 Lok Sabha seats.

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The two sides clinching seat sharing, particularly in AAP-ruled Delhi, was seen as a breakthrough for the INDIA bloc after two successive body blows owing to defections by Nitish Kumar’s JDU and Jayant Chaudhary-led RLD. This comes close on the heels of the Uttar Pradesh seat-sharing announcement by the Samajwadi Party and the Congress.

The two parties going separately in the AAP-ruled Punjab, which accounts for 13 Lok Sabha seats, was indicated to be part of a deliberate electoral tactic to restrict the growth of the BJP in the minority Sikh-populated state.

In Gujarat, the Congress will leave just two Lok Sabha seats — Bharuch and Bhavnagar — for the AAP and contest the remaining 24 in the state, Congress general secretary Mukul Wasnik announced at a joint media address by the two INDIA bloc partners.

In Haryana, the AAP will contest just one (Kurukshetra) of the 10 Lok Sabha seats in the state and leave the rest for the Congress.

“The Congress will contest both the Lok Sabha seats in Goa. The Congress will also contest the lone seat in Chandigarh (UT),” Wasnik announced with the AAP leaders by his side.

In Delhi, the AAP will contest the New Delhi, East Delhi, West Delhi and South Delhi seats while the Congress, Chandni Chowk, Northeast Delhi and Northwest Delhi.

“In Punjab, the two parties have mutually decided to contest the elections separately,” AAP general secretary (organisation) Sandeep Pathak said.

Pathak said his party had allied with the Congress as it believes that the “country is important and party is secondary”.

The seat sharing deal in Gujarat, however, left the family of late Congress veteran Ahmed Patel disappointed with their home-turf Bharuch seat going to the AAP.

“Deeply apologise to Our district cadre for not being able to secure the Bharuch Lok Sabha seat in alliance. I share your disappointment. Together, we will regroup to make @INCIndia stronger. We won’t let @ahmedpatel 45 years of Legacy go in vain. #bharuchkibeti,” Mumtaz Patel, the daughter of the late leader and a party member posted on X.

Ahmed Patel had won the Bharuch Lok Sabha seat in 1977, 1980 and 1984 but thereafter the BJP has been dominating the seat.

The BJP termed the Congress-AAP seat-sharing deal an “opportunistic alliance between two corrupt parties”. “The chemistry of the corrupt is not going to work in front of ‘Sevadaar’ (serviceman) Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” junior minister Meenakshi Lekhi said.

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