#Elections2019: Why AAP and Congress need each other in Delhi?


The Congress party has decided that it will not enter into any alliance with AAP for Lok Sabha polls in Delhi. AAP has been wooing the Congress leadership for an electoral understanding to prevent split of anti-BJP votes. This is seen as a setback to efforts of opposition to put up a united / joint candidate against BJP. Kejriwal, unhappy with Congress decision, has accused the grand old party of having a secret understanding with the BJP. Hard core Congress loyalists are questioning its decision and accusing it of playing a big brotherly approach even after being reduced to less than 50 seats in 2014 Lok Sabha polls and failing to open its account in 2015 Delhi Vidhan Sabha elections.

Why did Congress say no to AAP’s offer?

The grand old party wants to revive itself in the national capital. Victories in three Hindi heartland states last December has boosted Congress party’s confidence of making a comeback in Delhi as it considers itself to be the top national alternative to BJP. It didn’t want to commit its 2013 mistake when after supporting AAP from outside in a hung assembly situation, it got wiped off in subsequent election in 2015. Almost the entire vote share of Congress shifted to AAP, with BJP at similar levels in 2015. Additionally, Kejriwal is a maverick leader. He has been attacking Congress top leadership in the past. He could continue to do so outside Delhi thus embarrassing the party. His statement that Congress has a secret understanding with BJP proved this point. Also, AAP unilaterally announced candidates to 6 out of 7 seats, which was seen as pressure tactic by Rahul Gandhi and Sheila Dixit.

2013

2015

Party

Seats

Votes % Party Seats Votes %

BJP

31

33.3

AAP

67

54.5

AAP

28

29.7

BJP

3

32.3

INC 8 24.7 INC 0

9.7

Source: http://www.indiavotes.com

Reasons in favour of alliance

1. INC + AAP > BJP

The vote share of Congress and AAP across polls since the new kid came on the block has been more than BJP, signifying the two together they could take on the party and its famed organizational might.

Party

2013 VS

2014 LS 2015 VS 2017 MCD

AAP

29.7

33.1

54.5

26.1

INC

24.7

15.2

9.7

21.0

AAP+INC

54.4

48.3

64.2

47.1

BJP 33.3 46.6 32.3

36.0

Source: http://www.indiavotes.com

2. To prevent split of anti BJP vote

Both parties contesting separately will lead to division of the anti-BJP vote. This was evident in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. BJP won all the seven seats sweeping Delhi. In 6 seats, Congress which finished 3rd recorded higher vote share than margin of victory, thus denting the prospects of AAP.

3. Similar anchor voting segments freely transferable

In any alliance, transferability of votes is crucial. AAP and Congress have support of complementary vote blocks. Dalits, Muslims, Gujjars (33% of population), poor and lower classes, which were traditional supporters of Congress in the capital, almost entirely voted for AAP in 2015. In the 2017 MCD elections, these voters were split between AAP and Congress. This vote block is mostly anti-BJP which is likely to stay with these two parties indicating AAP and Congress are natural allies. Due to this factor, the leakages are likely to be low, in other words, both partners can theoretically do a seamless transfer of votes to each other.

5. Congress lacks leaders to match Modi-Kejriwal charisma in the state

Congress party doesn’t have leaders in the state to match the charisma of Modi and Kejriwal. They have once again fallen back to old warhorse Sheila Dixit to head the party. Younger predecessors like Ajay Maken and Arvinder Singh Lovely couldn’t revive the party’s fortunes. At a time when 65% of India’s population is between 18-35 years of age, expecting Sheila to connect with the youth is too much of a task. Central elections are becoming more and more Presidential style. In such a scenario, combined popularity ratings of Rahul-Kejriwal-Sheila might have been higher than Modi.

5. AAP could have proved handy in Punjab as well

AAP has emerged as the main opposition party in Punjab. The alliance could have been extended outside Delhi as well. The two together have 60%+ vote share in the state. AAP and Congress could have swept the 20 seats in Punjab and Delhi. AAP is among few regional parties like BSP which has a good number of votes outside their home states of Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.

Party Name

% of Votes from Main / Home State in 2014 Lok Sabha Polls

SP

96%

TMC

96%

BSP

69%

AAP

54%

AIADMK

99%

Source: www.politicalbaba.com

The arithmetic was clearly in favour of the alliance. However, alliances are not always about arithmetic but also about chemistry, and here is where it lacked. Congress could not forget the acrimonious past. Obviously, it has not been able to shed its big daddy mentality. While polls suggest a hung house, Congress party’s strategy is to get higher number of seats for UPA than the non-NDA regional parties. Even if they would have agreed to contest together, seat sharing arrangement would have posed problems. Its advantage BJP for now in Delhi…..

 

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