The ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is maintaining its distance from the Congress while being aggressive in its anti-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stance, appears to have still not decided whether or not to do business with main opposition party in parliament in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections…writes Nivedita Singh
Senior party leader and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh hinted as much when he said that there is a need for an anti-BJP formation to checkmate the saffron party ahead of the general elections. But on the question of a tie-up with Congress, he said the stage has not come as yet and the Congress has not approached it to be part of an alliance.
“There is no initiative from the Congress or from the AAP for an alliance. In the three states (Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh) where we fought the assembly elections, we did not have a tie-up with the Congress anywhere. First, there should be talks (between the two sides) and an initiative to actually know if we are comfortable together or not. There is no initiative from the Congress or from the AAP for an alliance,” Singh told IANS in an interview.
The BJP swept Delhi in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, winning all the seven seats, while the AAP emerged as the main party in the assembly polls a year later, winning a staggering 67 of the 70 seats.
Though there has been no direct political contact between the Congress and the AAP, Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal shared the stage last week at a farmers rally and a similar rally at Janatar Mantar. Both were also present at the swearing-in ceremony of Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy earlier this year.
Supporting the idea of a coalition by terming it the need of the hour to stop the BJP, Singh asserted that it was important for the nation and for democracy that the opposition parties are united against the BJP throughout the country.
However, he also said although the AAP is not part of any alliance or coalition, its “anti-BJP stand” is clear and so the party welcomes any sort of alliance to fight communal politics in the country.
“The BJP has to be stopped and challenged for the economic betterment of the nation.”
Citing examples of the Lok Sabha by-elections in Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh (Phulpur, Kairana and Gorakhpur), where the BJP was trounced, Singh said a “coalition of parties is an option to remove the BJP”.
“Our anti-BJP stand is very clear. In Kairana, we did not put up a candidate. RLD (Rashtriya Lok Dal) was contesting the election against BJP. We will not support the BJP, so our people campaigned for RLD and this is the current situation. We are also not a part of the grand alliance. But we feel it is important to stop the BJP.”
He said the important thing is not whether AAP is part of an alliance or not but “until the opposition alliance is formed, with or without the AAP, it will be difficult to stop the BJP. A coalition is the need of the hour to stop the BJP and if there is an equation on that throughout the country it will be helpful”.
“We (AAP) feel there is no discussion in the country on serious issues related to farmers, youth and the economy. There is an attempt to disturb the communal atmosphere of the nation. It is important for the nation and for the democracy to have a coalition against the BJP throughout the country.”
He urged the parties to stand together to raise serious issues during the general elections, which the BJP will try to “hide with non-issues” like the Ram Temple.
“For the 2019 elections, the BJP will bring and discuss non-issues. It will try to make issues out of non-issues and has started doing this with the Ram Temple discussion. They did not and will not speak about the employment to youths, black money, the price of the dollar, petrol and diesel,” Singh said.
The National Spokesperson of the AAP also said Modi, in his speeches, never discusses his poll promises.
“So, even if we speak about the work, what exactly has he done? It is demonetisation that broke the backbone of the economy.”
“India is an emotional country and the Prime Minister is taking advantage of this. He is an expert in raising emotional issues but never speaks on serious issues like Rafale. It doesn’t matter what the caste of the Prime Minister is, or what he did before becoming PM. We want to know about black money, bullet trains, farmers’ issues and when the rupee will reach 40 (to the dollar).”
Speaking about the strategy of AAP for 2019, he said the party will contest in 80-100 seats across the nation.
“The party will fight elections in all the seats in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Goa. We will also contest some seats in other states.”
However, Singh said the candidates and other strategies will be announced after December 11, when the results of elections in five states — Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Mizoram — will be out.