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Congress, NCP to contest Lok Sabha Polls together in Maharashtra



Praful Patel

Mumbai, Jan 5: The Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) will contest the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections together on 40 seats in Maharashtra.

NCP leader Praful Patel made the announcement regarding pre-poll alliance at a press conference.

“However, a decision is yet to be taken for the remaining 8 Lok Sabha seats of the state”, he added.



AAP irrelevant, we want to win all 7 Lok Sabha seats in Delhi: Sheila Dikshit

I will mobilise all workers and leaders for the party’s victory



sheila dikshit arvind kejriwal

New Delhi, Jan 16 : Inducted as Delhi Congress President ahead of the crucial Lok Sabha elections, Sheila Dikshit says her target is to win all the seven Lok Sabha seats in the national capital.

The 80-year-old leader, who assumed office as the Delhi Congress chief on Wednesday, said she will mobilise all workers and leaders for the party’s victory.

She said her target is “to get Congress active and get all Congressmen together.”

Asked about her target for the Lok Sabha elections, she said: “I hope to win all the seven. We will target all the seven and then see”.


Veteran Congress leader Sheila Dikshit with Former Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken during a programme where she took charge as the party’s Delhi unit chief in New Delhi, on Jan 16, 2019. (Photo: IANS)

Asked when the party will declare its candidates as the AAP has sounded its potential candidates and the BJP already has sitting MPs in all the seven seats, she hoped that the candidates will be decided soon. “Let’s see when the high command announces.”

Dikshit said she is not in favour of an alliance with the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the capital and prefers that the party go it alone.

However, at the same time she also does not rule out a tie up with the AAP.

“No, I am not in favour of it (alliance with AAP),” she told IANS.

“The Aam Aadmi Party is not a very polished party. For instance why did they do all that …Rajiv Gandhi having got the award (Bharat Ratna). What have they got to do with it. They never gave the award 22 years ago. Why did they pick it up? They just pick up things. I don’t think they think before what they are doing,” the three-time chief minister of Delhi said when she was asked about the reasons for not going for an alliance with the AAP.

“Anyway, for me, I mean they are the ruling party of Delhi so that relevance is there but otherwise they are an irrelevant party.”

Asked if the AAP was in touch with the party’s central leadership, she said: “No, not with us in anyway. I don’t think so.”

Pressed further on the issue, Dikshit said she had no idea. “Nobody has spoken about it.”

Asked if she had conveyed her viewpoint to the central leadership, Dikshit said she had given her views in the media.


Veteran Congress leader Sheila Dikshit with party leaders Ajay Maken, Meira Kumar and Harun Yusuf during a programme where she took charge as the party’s Delhi unit chief in New Delhi, on Jan 16, 2019. Also seen . (Photo: IANS)

“I have conveyed to all of you so everybody knows my viewpoint. It has been there for a long time.”

Asked if she was ruling out an alliance with the AAP, she said: At the moment there is no alliance with AAP, and let’s see what happens in future.”

To a follow up question on when the uncertainty will end, she smiled and refused to comment.

She rejected apprehensions that the Congress and the AAP fighting separately will give an advantage to the BJP in Delhi.

“Why, why, why…No. We are strong enough ourselves, please remember. We are older than the BJP and much older than the AAP. No thank you…No, there is no need (to align).”

To a query whether she had given her feedback to the party, Dikshit said, “Not yet,” and added that she will be doing so as soon as she was asked by the leadership.

Asked if potential candidates have been sounded out, she said “everybody is working, everybody has got their mind on it and we have to meet and bring (it) to each other’s attention.”

Asked about her being made PCC chief only three months before the polls and if it should have been done earlier, Dikshit said: “What has happened has happened. You make the best of what has happened.”

She said the party not having declared its candidates so far does not matter. “The God made the whole world in seven days and surely we can do this (declare candidates).”

However, she refused to spell out her party’s strategy. “I won’t tell you just now. I will bring the strategy which is implementable. So let me just study it.”

She said the workers were motivated and the ground work was visible for the last-three four days.

Asked who was the main challenger between the AAP and the BJP in Delhi, she said they both were a challenge.

“I think at the national level, if you are looking at their presence, then the BJP is.”

Asked if Rahul Gandhi was relying on the old guard having appointed Kamal Nath chief minister in Madhya Pradesh, Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan and Bhupesh Baghel in Chhattisgarh, Dikshit did not give a direct answer.

“I wouldn’t say. This is a question you need to ask Rahulji. I don’t make assessments on appointments, they have been made, they have been made.”

Dikshit admitted that there was some factionalism in the Delhi unit and said it will be addressed.

“There is… wherever there are 20…there are hundreds of people in the Congress, there is bound to be a faction. It is not something that cannot be overcome for a particular cause,” she said.

“The challenge is to face the forthcoming elections to the Lok Sabha and the challenge that is consistent with that is to keep the party together. All of us not to show our differences of opinion if we have any. Carry on what the leaders (say) so that we are seen as a joint organisation working for the good of the Congress,” she said.

Dikshit said she will campaign for the Congress in Uttar Pradesh if asked to, “but I will focus more on Delhi as there is a lot of work here.”

Asked about the dim possibility of a grand alliance shaping up in Delhi, she said: “You all bring a time limit saying do it now or tomorrow. In politics there is no time limit. It depends on the opportunities and atmosphere that is there and then we take decisions.”

She said that both national and local issues will be highlighted in Delhi during the campaign.

Dikshit said the party will highlight the development work done during her 15 years as chief minister. “Obviously, those works were done by Congress and we will surely highlight those works.”

On the recurrent confrontation between the AAP government in Delhi with the BJP-led central government, Dikshit said she had worked smoothly as Chief Minister with the Vajpayee government.

“It is for them to understand whether confrontation brings out work,” she said.

(Anand Singh can be contacted at [email protected] and Prashant Sood at [email protected])

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AAP to fight Lok Sabha polls in UP, Kejriwal won’t contest




Varanasi, Jan 13 : The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Sunday said it will contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from Uttar Pardesh but unlike last time, party chief Arvind Kejriwal will not be its face from Varanasi.

Speaking to IANS, AAP MP Sanjay Singh said the details of the seats and candidates would be finalised by February-end.

“The party or Kejriwal never said that he is going to contest the Lok Sabha elections. He is Delhi’s Chief Minister and he has no plans to join the electoral race in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” Singh said.

“The party will field candidates in the Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh from the areas where the organisation is strong. The details of seats and candidates will be announced by February-end,” he added.

Singh on Sunday concluded his two-day “Bhajpa Bhagao, Bhagwan Bachao Yatra” in Varanasi.

The Yatra, which started from Ayodhya on Saturday, was organised to “expose” the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on various issues. He also sough to highlight that hundreds of Shivlingas were allegedly found lying under the rubble of structures demolished to pave way for the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor — a pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his parliamentary constituency.

The AAP has announced that it will focus on Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Goa in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

In 2014, Kejriwal contested face from Varanasi against BJP candidate and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Kejriwal lost the elections by over three lakh votes.


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SP-BSP alliance a monumental leap of faith between two sworn rivals

By poll results of Gorakhpur, Kairana and Phulpur showed what a combined opposition can do and this extended to Noorpur assembly constituency where again the BJP lost.



Akhilesh Mayawati

New Delhi, Jan 13 : It is exactly something that the BJP had a sense of foreboding about. The alliance between the SP & BSP in UP is a monumental leap of faith between two sworn rivals.

There is every possibility that this alliance may now extend to other states as well. Predicated on playing the caste calculus right, the first such experiment was in Bihar during the 2015 assembly poll. Now in UP as in Bihar, the two parties don’t even have minimum representation either in the assembly or in the LS so it was vital for their political sustenance and survival.

The joint vote share of these two parties was 41.80 which is even lower than that of the BJP in the 2014 LS poll. The consolidation of the Hindu vote twice in the LS and assembly polls behind Modi has left a political void in terms of bipolarity. The politics of polarisation will meet the politics of appeasement head on now.

It is clear as daylight that a united opposition will be the best bet to stop Modi and the BJP in UP. Whether the Congress wants to ally with SP-BSP remains in the realm of conjecture, but given the communal cleave developing in the state with cow vigilantism and other Hindu nationalism theatrics, it would be advisable for a joint collaborative effort to stop a rampant BJP.

By poll results of Gorakhpur, Kairana and Phulpur showed what a combined opposition can do and this extended to Noorpur assembly constituency where again the BJP lost. The social and caste engineering of the SP and BSP and perhaps Congress if it joins in has to be skewed towards breaking the Hindu vote which has twice aggregated behind Modi.

Backwards have been unhappy because Keshav Maurya was overlooked for UP state CMship where Yogi Adityanath got the nod. Mayawati had mastered the social universe and that is how she came to power in 2007. By bringing their innate experience and expertise in realpolitik, both Bua and Bhartiya will offer the BJP more than a fight in what will most undoubtedly become a communal cauldron as we get closer to the poll dates.

Not only does the construct of the alliance have negatives for the BJP but some positives also accrue. Now that the alliance has been stitched, the political atmosphere will change completely and the buzz will remain among voters about the newly forged alliance besides the winning possibilities. The biggest strength of the alliance is that it will bring the Dalit-Muslim-Yadav axis to the fore in the state. At its very kernel is this math.

Obviously keeping a communal BJP at bay is a given. This alliance will now enlarge the scope of the anti incumbency vote against BJP and Modi, which is actually a double incumbency of sorts since BJP won in 2014 and then again in 2017 assembly polls. With the BJP unfurling the Hindu chauvinistic flag on Friday and articulating that they expect the Hindu vote to aggregate behind Hindu Hriday Samrat Narendra Modi, the path to Delhi will be via the Saryu River. The conjoined issues of Hindu machismo and Ram Mandir will be the BJP’s clear cut strategy in UP.

SP and BSP came together in the 1993 assembly poll in the aftermath of December 1992 Ayodhya issue. Then between these two parties the SP contested 256 seats while the BSP sought the mandate on 164 Seats. The SP won 109 seats while the BSP registered a win on 67 seats. In that election the alliance of these two parties won 176 seats while the BJP also won 177 seats. The Congress brought up the rear with 28 seats. The BJP may also recall the 1993 political scenario to the voters for political benefit. At that time the SP was a new party struggling to completely capture the space of the Janata Dal through the instrumentality of the newly formed Samajwadi party under the leadership of Mulayam Singh Yadav.

The non-inclusion of the Congress in the alliance may pose some kind of challenge for the BJP. The INC has a traditional 20-25,000 voters across all the LS seats mainly from the forward and Muslim communities. These are traditional voters who are voting for the Congress party since generations. In case the Congress goes solo, then the voters may vote for the INC which would cost the BJP dearly.

During the 2017 assembly poll such voters have voted for the BJP as the INC was the ally of the SP. The anti-incumbency of the SP added to the woes of the INC traditional voters. If the INC had forged an alliance with the BSP in the 2017 assembly poll then perhaps the result may well have been different at least in terms of seats tally. In another manoeuvre Apna Dal Krishna Patel faction has joined hands with AAP in UP and in certain segments, it will cut into the vote.

The role of the INC will also be crucial not in terms of winning but in putting up candidates. In 2009 LS poll in Bihar the then INC allies RJD & LJP forged an alliance and voluntarily gave 3 seats to the INC by dividing 25 and 12 seats respectively. The INC put up candidates particularly rebels from these two parties on most of the seats and the INC performance cost the RJD-LJP alliance dearly. As per estimates, it cost the RJD-LJP alliance 20 LS seats in Bihar in 2009 due to INC candidates.

The NDA (BJP-JDU) was the default winner, courtesy the INC candidates in Bihar in 2009. The victory of the then NDA in Bihar was much beyond its expectation and in the prevailing political circumstances. The INC can try to emulate the 2009 experience in UP in 2019 if they feel they have not been accommodated respectfully. In 2009, the Congress surprisingly bagged 21 seats and it was believed that this would pave the way for Rahul Gandhi’s coronation, but that didn’t happen.

If the Congress stays away from the SP-BSP alliance, it would be foolhardy, but in the eventuality it goes alone, it would try and replicate its Sterling show of 2009. The INC will put forward that performance to checkmate the SP-BSP to solicit more seats. Equally, the INC performance of 2017 cannot be considered solely as there is change in voting pattern for LS & assembly polls.

As far as RLD is concerned its performance was highly painful in 2014. Ajit Singh was the poor third on his traditional Baghpat LS seat behind the BJP and the SP. Even on Ajit Singh and of Jayant Chaudhary’s LS Seats of Baghpat and Mathura, the RLD was unable to establish a lead on any of the assembly seats. The party’s performance was abysmally poor.

By contesting eight LS seats, the party garnered only 689,409 votes and managed to save its deposit on only two seats of Baghpat and Mathura. Like the first families of the INC and the SP, only the family of the RLD was able to perform well (save its deposit in case of the RLD first family) . The first families of these two parties won on their seats while the RLD first family saved its deposit on their seats.

On RLD’s Jayant Chaudhary Mathura seat, there were two Hema Malinis, one from the BJP while the other was an Independent. The Independent Hema Malini actually got 10,158 votes. If we analyse the assembly segment-wise performance of the Baghpat LS seat then in Siwalkhas, the RLD was on third spot much behind the BJP & SP, while in Baghpat, the RLD was in the third spot, much behind the BJP & SP and in Modinagar, the RLD was on 4th spot behind the BJP, SP & the BSP.

On Baghpat LS Seat Satyapal Singh was the BJP candidate, Ghulam Mohammed was the SP & Prashant Chaudhari was the BSP candidate. So the RLD performance was poor even in Ajit Singh’s traditional seat of Baghpat. So the stakes of the RLD in the forthcoming LS poll are limited despite Ajit Singh’s bravado. However for Sp and BSP, this is a lit must test and for the rejuvenated Rahul Gandhi equally an attritional war.

In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, BJP won on 337 assembly seats translating into 71 LS seats, while in 2017 assembly polls it actually captured 325 seats, an unprecedented mandate in UP’s history, only on the back of Hindu consolidation cutting across caste fault lines.

UP 2014 Lok Sabha elections:

BJP 71, Apna Dal 2, Congess 2, SP 5

UP 2014 Assembly

BJP 328, Apna Dal 9, Congress 15, SP 42, BSP 9

BJP: 39.67% Increase 24.7% 312 Increase 265

BSP) 32.23% Decrease3.7% 19 Decrease 61

SP) 21.82% Decrease7.7% 47 Decrease 177

INC) 6.25% Decrease5.4% 7 Decrease 21

RLD 1.78% Decrease0.5% 1 Decrease 8

Apna Dal .98% Increase1.0% 9 Increase 9

SBSP) 0.7% Increase0.7% 4 Increase 4

PECP) 0.3% Decrease2.0% 0 Decrease4

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