Why is the Congress not allying with the Aam Admi Party (AAP) is a question one often hears in Delhi these days. Well, while former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit is being blamed for holding up an alliance that will prove to be a huge speed breaker for the BJP in the capital (some predict that a Cong-AAP alliance could get 7/7 seats in Delhi), she is not the only nay sayer. The main resistance is coming from Punjab and Haryana units of the Congress, which do not want the AAP vote piggy-backing on them. And they are right because Kejriwal’s appeal is only limited to Delhi. So why should the Congress oblige them in the capital at the cost of the party in the other two states?
It is a valid argument. But the Congress has to first get its poll narrative right. Is its end game in 2019 defeating Modi at whatever the cost? Or does it see 2019 as a series in character building elections, a process thru which Rahul Gandhi will finally emerge as the Undisputed Leader of the Nation, say sometime in 2024, or maybe 2029. The young (he is nearly 50) leader doesn’t mind, he has time on his hands.
This is the narrative that is exasperating the rest of the Congress allies. Both Akhilesh Yadav and Omar Abdullah have told me (in separate interviews aired on NewsX) that the Congress should focus on defeating the BJP in states where it is strong i.e. MP, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, Punjab, Gujarat and even Haryana. And states where it is not, i.e. UP, Delhi, West Bengal it should tie up with the regional ally best placed to take on Modi and not divide the anti-BJP vote.
Akhilesh Yadav is still hurting at the fact that while he gave the Congress as many as 105 seats in the 2017 state polls in UP (way above the party’s pay grade) it did not return the favour when he asked for a few seats in Gujarat, and later on in MP and Rajasthan. So he says, if my party is not a player in the other states then the Congress is not a player in UP.
At the end of the day, this is what it boils down to. Not just Modi Vs the Rest but the Unrest within the Rest.