Analysis: Soft Beds, Hard Political Choices

Analysis: Soft Beds, Hard Political Choices

The AAP won most spectacularly in assembly elections in Delhi, but most surprisingly, it failed to win a single Lok Sabha seat on both occasions in 2014 and 2019.

AshutoshUpdated: Friday, January 26, 2024, 11:07 AM IST
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If one must write about the relationship status of AAP and the Congress on social media, then the only word that comes to mind is – It is complicated! Ideally, both should not be seen together in the same bed, but strangely, they have no other option but to live together except in Punjab. 

In Punjab, the AAP has defeated the Congress and formed the government, and the Congress is the main opposition party. In 2017, the reverse was true. Then the Congress was in the government and the AAP was the main opposition. Till 2017, the Akali Dal and the Congress were the main players in Punjab politics but now the Akali Dal is fighting for its survival and if the AAP and the Congress decide to form an alliance and contest together, then this will harm both, and the Akali Dal, which is waiting in the wings, will get a chance to occupy the space meant for the opposition. No wonder local units of the AAP and the Congress are fiercely opposed to any alliance between the two, and rightly so, with Bhagwant Mann, the CM of Punjab and AAP leader, saying that the AAP will contest the election in all the 13 seats. But outside Punjab, the AAP and the Congress, in all probability, will fight together. 

In 2014 & 2019, APP failed to win a single seat in the LS polls

The AAP won most spectacularly in assembly elections in Delhi, but most surprisingly, it failed to win a single Lok Sabha seat on both occasions in 2014 and 2019. In fact, in the 2019 parliamentary election, the AAP was replaced by the Congress as the number two party in terms of vote share. The AAP was polled 18 per cent votes whereas the Congress's vote share 23 per cent. The BJP remained unbeatable on both occasions, swept the elections and won all seven seats. 

Congress's vote share dipped due to AAP in 2019

In 2019, the two parties tried to put up joint candidates against the BJP, but the AAP was not willing to concede more than two seats to the Congress. This time, the AAP is wiser. The seat-sharing talks are on, and most probably, a deal will be sealed. The AAP is also interested in seat sharing with the Congress in Goa, where the AAP has approximately seven per cent votes and two MLAs. It is demanding one of the two parliamentary seats. Gujarat is another tricky state. Here AAP has been responsible for the drastic drop in the Congress's vote share in the last assembly election. Despite consistently losing in assembly elections since 1995, the Congress has been maintaining a decent 38+ per cent vote share but because of the aggressive campaigning by AAP, the Congress's vote share dropped to 27 per cent in the last assembly election. And if the Congress is not alert, then AAP can replace the grand old party in the state. 

For the parliamentary election, the two parties know, they can fight the BJP together. Otherwise, if they fight separately, it will be difficult to save their face and deposits in most of the constituencies. In Gujarat, if the Congress must survive, then it should have an alliance with the AAP, which can have the downside of restricting AAP's growth in the state. The AAP is also keen on having a seat adjustment in Haryana where it is a fringe player. Arvind Kejriwal belongs to Haryana, but it is unlikely the Congress will concede a few seats there. 

A friendly fight is their only remaining alternative

Friendly fight is the only option left for the two members of the INDIA bloc. The AAP formed its first government in Delhi with the outside support of the Congress in 2013. It surprised everyone by winning 28 seats and the ruling party was reduced to eight. The Congress till then had been in the government for three consecutive terms, and Sheila Dikshit was the chief minister. Since then, it has been striving to reclaim its lost ground. Leader of the country's oldest party and the newest party of the national capital know fully well that together they can sail through the general election against the unstoppable Modi and the BJP. And, if Modi returns to power, the AAP will find it difficult to survive. Were that to happen, the Kejriwal story, it seems, will be over. The same cannot be said for the Congress, as it has a great legacy and an all-India footprint that has given them more resilience and tenacity to fight back. 

The writer is the Editor of SatyaHindi.com and the author of Hindu Rashtra. He tweets at @ashutosh83B.

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