Rahul, Kejriwal trade charges over flagging alliance talks

Cong chief accuses AAP convenor of U-turn; latter hits back

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 15

Congress president Rahul Gandhi said on Monday that “clock was running out” on an alliance between his party and Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party—his first comment on seat-sharing negotiations that appear to be repeatedly running into roadblocks.

Gandhi accused AAP's national convenor Arvind Kejriwal of going back on his word. In a tweet on Monday he said: “An alliance between the Congress & AAP in Delhi would mean the rout of the BJP. The Congress is willing to give up 4 Delhi seats to the AAP to ensure this. But, Mr Kejriwal has done yet another U turn! Our doors are still open, but the clock is running out”.

AAP was quick to respond. In his tweet, written in Hindi, Kejriwal accused the Congress of pretending to want a coalition.

He said in response to Gandhi's tweet: "What U-turn? Talks are still ongoing. Your tweets show you don’t really want a coalition, that it’s just a show. I’m sad that you’re making such statements. Today we need to save the country from the Modi-Shah. Unfortunately, you’re helping Modiji by dividing anti-Modi votes in UP and other states too”. 

AAP leader Sanjay Singh blamed the repeated failure of talks on the Congress saying: “By compromising on 31 seats in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Chandigarh, Congress could end the possibility of Modiji’s return to power. Why do you want to keep the possibility alive, Congress”.

“In states where the Opposition is strong, UP, West Bengal and Kerala, Congress is putting up strong fights. But in states where Congress is strong, MP, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat, Congress is quiet. Why aren’t you putting up a fight there, Congress,” Sanjay Singh said in his tweets, also in Hindi. 

Kejriwal on his part said in a statement on Sunday that he was willing to do “anything to save the country” from BJP’s top brass, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and national president Amit Shah.

On Sunday, Arvind Kejriwal tweeted: "The country is in danger. To save the country from (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi Ji and Amit Shah Ji's 'jodi', we are ready to do whatever is needed. Our efforts will continue till the end."

Seat-sharing negotiations between the two parties that have been ongoing for more than a month appear to repeatedly run into stumbling blocks. Previous attempt at forging the alliance failed after Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit put her foot down. The development also brought to the fore divisions within the Congress party’s Delhi unit over such an alliance.  

Both parties have blamed the other for the deadlock. AAP has been asking for the alliance talks to extend to Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, but Congress has so far resisted, saying the talks would be limited to Delhi alone.

Congress has already announced it would contest all seven of Delhi’s parliamentary seats alone. AAP meanwhile has forged an alliance with Jannayak Janata Party, a recently minted breakway from the Indian National Lok Dal, for Haryana's 10 Parliamentary seats.  

Observers took Kejriwal’s statement to mean he was willing to climb down on seat-sharing demands, but Gandhi’s tweet on Monday has once again thrown that into question.

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