The unity of the INDIA Opposition bloc has taken another hit, this time in the Northeast. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has announced three candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, flagging delays in finalising seat-sharing with the Congress.
The AAP has fielded Manoj Dhanowar from Dibrugarh seat, Bhaben Chaudhary from Guwahati and Rishi Raj Kauntinya from Tezpur. Assam has 14 Lok Sabha seats.
Announcing the candidates’ names, AAP MP and national general secretary (organisation) Sandeep Pathak said talks within the INDIA alliance have been going on “for months”. “We are tired of talking now. We have to contest, and win, elections. There is no time. We are fully with the INDIA alliance and I hope that the alliance will allot these three seats to AAP,” he said.
हमें चुनाव लड़ने के लिए नहीं लड़ना, जीतने के लिए लड़ना है।
हम पूरी तरह से INDIA Alliance के साथ हैं, उम्मीद करते हैं कि जो सीटें हमने Announce की हैं, वो INDIA Alliance, AAP को दे देगी।
— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) February 8, 2024
Mr Pathak said that time and strategy are critical factors to win an election. “How long will we keep talking? We need to work. We are strongly with INDIA alliance, but winning the polls is priority. The more we expedite, the better our chances will be,” he said.
The three seats where AAP has fielded candidates are currently with the BJP. But the fact that AAP has never won a parliamentary seat in Assam may be the Congress’s counter to its claim for three seats. In the 2019 polls, the BJP won nine seats and Congress bagged three.
In fact, state Congress sources said they have no objection to AAP contesting from Guwahati. “But the decision on seat-sharing has to be taken by the central leadership,” a source said.
Contrary to other states where INDIA allies are arch rivals, the Congress and AAP units are on pleasant terms. During Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra weeks back, the Assam unit of AAP had joined the march.
The development in Assam is yet another loss of face for the Congress, which is on the backfoot after several regional forces flagged the delay in finalising seat-sharing equations.
Earlier, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee has announced that she will go solo in the Lok Sabha polls after the state Congress rejected her party’s offer for two seats. In Punjab, AAP leader and Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has said they are preparing to contest all 13 seats. The Opposition bloc is facing a tussle in Uttar Pradesh too, where Samajwadi Party has announced 11 candidates even as talks with the Congress are on.