For the first time since the INDIA bloc was formed, crucial seat-sharing talks between the Congress and AAP took place at senior leader Mukul Wasnik’s residence on Monday.
A day before the talks, AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal, who is on a two-day campaign trip to Gujarat, unilaterally announced jailed Dediapada MLA Chaitar Vasava as its Lok Sabha candidate from Bharuch.
Kejriwal, along with Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, also met Vasava and his wife at Rajpipla jail in Narmada. AAP sources told News18 that the party is keen to bring to the table seat-sharing discussions in all key states, especially the ones in which it has sitting MLAs. According to sources within the party, Congress was keen to discuss seat sharing in Delhi to begin with.
While AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sandeep Pathak and Delhi ministers Saurabh Bhardwaj and Atishi spearheaded the talks for AAP, the Congress was represented by Mukul Wasnik, Arvinder Singh Lovely, Mohan Prakash and Ashok Gahlot among others.
Though the state units of both the Congress and AAP have declared that they are not willing to share space in Punjab, AAP is keen to use the strength of the INDIA bloc for a foothold in Haryana, Gujarat, Goa and also Delhi. In all these states, Congress is the senior ally with a larger vote share as far as Lok Sabha elections are concerned. In Gujarat and Delhi, however, neither the AAP nor the Congress have a single Lok Sabha seat. Congress leader Salman Khurshid joined the talks mid-way and left before lunch while Sandeep Dikshit met Congress leaders earlier and left before the meeting started.
Speaking to the media later, Congress Rajya Sabha MP Mukul Wasnik said: “It was a good meeting. Friends from AAP were sent by the Delhi chief minister for discussions. The national alliance committee of the Congress made by Mallikarjun Kharge held discussions with them on various topics, including seats and how the Lok Sabha elections will be fought. Discussions will continue. We have decided to hold meetings again soon in which we will try and give ultimate shape to our seat-sharing plans.”
Wasnik, when asked about the states that were discussed, said: “Discussions were held on various topics. I would not like to discuss the details. It is not possible now. It is also not possible to provide you with all the details when discussions are going on.”
Leaders from both sides indicated that discussions were not held on seat sharing just in Delhi. However, even though talks were ‘positive’, they were termed inconclusive. While seat-sharing talks on Delhi were almost final, the matter is stuck over other states such as Punjab, Gujarat, Haryana and Goa.