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AAP, Congress keen to test Punjab waters alone in 2024 LS polls

New Delhi: Keen to cash in on its electoral success, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) wants to go alone in Punjab for next year’s Lok Sabha polls and not have an alliance with the Congress, its coalition partner in the I.N.D.I.A opposition bloc.

The AAP stormed to power in Punjab with a landslide victory in the state polls, bagging 92 seats in the 117-member Assembly and trouncing the Congress that managed to win 18 seats.

Sources in the opposition camp said that the Congress too is keen to contest the Lok Sabha polls in Punjab without any alliance with the AAP as it hopes to unseat Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2024. Punjab has 13 Lok Sabha seats.

At a meeting of the I.N.D.I.A bloc on Tuesday, the leaders of 28 opposition parties agreed to finalise the seat-sharing arrangements for the Lok Sabha polls by mid-January to jointly take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is ruling at the Centre since 2014.

In Delhi, where the AAP won a third term in office in 2020, winning 62 seats in the 70-member Assembly, party supremo Arvind Kejriwal is ready for an alliance with the Congress.

The sources said that the AAP is ready to leave three of the seven Lok Sabha seats in the national capital for the Congress.

The opposition camp believes that the Congress and the AAP have better chances of winning a majority of the Lok Sabha seats in the national capital as a team, instead of going alone and making it a triangular contest.

The BJP won all the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi in the 2014 and 2019 general elections. In 2019, the combined votes of the Congress and AAP were much less than the BJP candidates.

The discussion on seat sharing in Punjab and Delhi is expected to take place after December 30, when Kejriwal returns from a Vipassana course.

In November, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had expressed confidence that the AAP will win all the 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Kejriwal was also present on the occasion.

“I am not talking about paid surveys. I talk to people in villages and cities — shopkeepers, labourers and traders…. I am saying that the result in the Lok Sabha polls will be 13-0 in favour of the AAP,” Mann had said.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge hoped that the “problem” of Delhi and Punjab will be solved eventually.

West Bengal, Kerala, Punjab and Delhi continue to be sticking points among the constituents of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (I.N.D.I.A) as none of the stakeholders is ready to give in, the sources said.

In Punjab, the Congress won eight of the 13 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 while the AAP managed to win just one and the SAD-BJP alliance four. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the AAP won four seats, the Congress two, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) four and the BJP two.

(Published 20 December 2023, 17:04 IST)

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