Lok Sabha Polls 2024: Delhi To Witness Bipolar Contest As AAP And Congress Join Hands

New Delhi: With the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections in sight, Delhi’s political scene got a taste of teamwork on Saturday. A formal announcement revealed that the AAP and Congress, two partners within the INDIA bloc, are joining forces, aiming for a 4-3 seat-sharing battleground. The goal of this alliance is to stir up the BJP’s dominance in the capital city, igniting a three-cornered contest for the seven available seats.

AAP To Feild Four Candidates

The AAP will field its candidates in four seats—New Delhi, South Delhi, West Delhi and East Delhi — while Congress will contest the Northeast Delhi, Northwest Delhi and Chandni Chowk constituencies, Congress national general secretary Mukul Wasnik said in a joint press conference with AAP leaders.

Giving the seat-sharing details, he said that although the Congress is fighting for three seats in Delhi, its workers and leaders will endeavour for the victory of INDIA bloc in all seven constituencies. All seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi have been with the BJP since 2014. In the 2019 polls, BJP candidates polled more votes than the joint tally of Congress and AAP candidates on each seat.

“Basically, all seven seats suit AAP in terms of winnability. However, for Delhi, we have agreed to the choice given by the Congress. In alliance, all seven seats are being contested by the INDIA bloc and we will work to win all seven seats for India,” the AAP said in a statement.

A major challenge before the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) candidates, however, will be to bridge the huge gap of votes between the winning BJP candidates in the 2019 polls and the defeated candidates.

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The BJP candidates had defeated Congress and AAP nominees with margins running into lakhs of votes in the 2019 polls. The AAP and Congress had also tried to enter into an alliance in Delhi in 2019 but failed to do so. Two-time BJP MP Manoj Tiwari defeated former Chief Minister and Congress candidate Sheila Dikshit by a margin of 3.6 lakh votes in 2019 from the Northeast Delhi seat. Congress is likely to field its Delhi unit chief, Arvind Singh Lovely, from the seat that has the highest percentage of Muslim population (over 29 per cent) of all the parliamentary constituencies in the city.

Kanhaiya Kumar From Northeast Delhi Seat?

The name of young Congress leader Kanhaiya Kumar is also doing the rounds as a probable from the Northeast Delhi seat, which has a dominance of Purvanchali voters and was rocked by riots in 2020. The Congress will also contest the reserved Northwest Delhi seat that is currently held by the BJP’s Hans Raj Hans. A famous Punjabi sufi singer, Hans won the seat in 2019 by a margin of over 5.5 lakh votes, defeating Gugan Singh of the AAP.

Udit Raj, who won Northwest Delhi on a BJP ticket in 2014, is likely to be a Congress candidate this time from the same constituency, party sources said. He quit the BJP after being denied a ticket in the 2019 elections and joined the Congress. The Congress will also contest from the Chandni Chowk constituency, with senior party leader JP Agarwal, a former MP from the constituency, said to be a leading candidate this time.

Mahila Congress chief Alka Lamba, who earlier represented the Chandni Chowk Assembly seat as an AAP leader, could also be considered by the Congress, sources claimed. Agarwal was defeated by Chandni Chowk of the BJP and Harsh Vardhan of the BJP by nearly 2.3 lakh votes in 2019.

AAP Likely To Field Former West Delhi MP Mahabal Mishra From Same Constituency

The AAP is likely to field former West Delhi MP Mahabal Mishra from the same constituency this time, sources in the party said. Mishra, a Congress candidate in 2019, was defeated by the BJP’s Parvesh Verma, former Chief Minister Sahib Singh Verma’s son, by a whopping margin of over 5.8 lakh votes.

The South Delhi Lok Sabha seat will be contested by the AAP and its Chhatarpur MLA, Kartar Singh Tanwar, is said to be probable, sources said. The seat was won for the second time by Ramesh Bidhuri of the BJP in 2019 by defeating the AAP’s Raghav Chadha by more than 3.65 lakh votes. East Delhi and New Delhi constituencies, too, will be contested by the AAP.

Former cricketer Gautam Gambhir won the East Delhi seat on a BJP ticket in 2019. He defeated the current Delhi Congress president, Arvinder Singh Lovely, by over 3.9 lakh votes. The AAP is considering fielding its Moti Nagar MLA Shiv Charan Goel from the New Delhi Lok Sabha seat, the sources said.

Interestingly, the AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister is an MLA for the New Delhi Assembly constituency. Two other ministers of the AAP government, Saurabh Bhardwaj and Raj Kumar Anand, too have their constituencies in the New Delhi parliamentary area. In 2019, present treasurer of Congress Ajay Maken was defeated by BJP candidate Meenakshi Lekhi by more than 2.5 lakh votes.

Despite suffering heavy losses on all seven seats in Delhi, the Congress managed to be runner up on six seats, while the AAP trailed in third place. Raghav Chadha from South Delhi was the only runner up for AAP. Further, three AAP candidates—Pankaj Gupta from Chandni Chowk, Brijesh Goel from New Delhi, and Dilip Pandey from North East Delhi—lost their deposits in 2019.

AAP general secretary (organisation) Sandeep Pathak said that a campaign strategy for the polls will be discussed together by the two sides later on. He said that the alliance between the two parties will “upturn” the “calculations and strategy” of the BJP and the INDIA bloc will win all the seats with the help of the people.

(With inputs from agencies)

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