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Congress admits delay in seat sharing after AAP snub: ‘Difficult task because…’

With key allies making unilateral announcements for Lok Sabha elections, the Congress party on Tuesday acknowledged the delay in finalising the seat-sharing formula with INDIA bloc members. The complexity of the situation is particularly evident in states like Delhi, Punjab and West Bengal, where the Congress is in direct competition with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) at the state level.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal during a meeting.(File)

Jairam Ramesh, Congress general secretary in charge of communications, said, “I admit that there has been a slight delay. But this is a difficult task because we are contesting against a few parties at the state level.”

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“INDIA Alliance is for the Lok Sabha 2024 elections. In Delhi and Punjab, we are contesting against the AAP. But we are united at the national level – that we have to defeat the BJP,” he insisted.

The Aam Aadmi Party snubbed Congress on Tuesday by offering the grand old party a single Lok Sabha seat in Delhi, contrary to earlier reports that had suggested a 3-4 formula between Congress and AAP in the national capital. AAP MP Sandeep Pathak said that even though the Congress party does not merit even a single seat in Delhi, in the spirit of alliance, the AAP party is willing to offer one seat.

“Today, we are not announcing the candidate. I hope that the meeting will start in the context of Delhi soon, the conclusion of the meeting will come out, we will all get on with our work and if the conclusion does not come out, then in the next few days we will announce the candidate on the six seats we are saying and we will start our preparation and our work,” he said.

The AAP had earlier named candidates for three Lok Sabha seats in Assam and rued the delay in finalising the seat sharing formula with the Congress party.

Ramesh said, “Resolving these matters is taking a little time. I agree that this should been done earlier, but there were some difficulties.”

Ramesh pointed out that while there are no issues with alliance partners like DMK, NCP, Shiv Sena, and Samajwadi Party, difficulties arise in states like West Bengal and Punjab.

“Our organization wants to contest on more number of seats here, AAP and TMC want the same. A middle path would be found and within a few days, seat-sharing will be given its final form.”

BJP national spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla seized the opportunity to criticize the Congress party and its leadership. Poonawalla cited instances where alliance partners expressed a lack of confidence in the Congress, suggesting that the alliance is more focused on sidelining the Congress rather than defeating the BJP.

“Today, yet another no confidence motion has been passed against the Congress party by its own allies. In every state you can see that no alliance partner has any confidence in the Congress party or in Rahul Gandhi. And therefore this is not an alliance of ‘Modi Hatao’. It is actually an alliance of ‘Congress ko ghatao’,” he said.

“Anyhow, Congress should be given 200 or less seats to contest across the country because Congress and these parties have come into existence after finishing each other’s existence,” Poonawalla added.

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