New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) stepped up pressure on its INDIA bloc partner Congress on Tuesday, announcing candidates from South Goa and two seats in Gujarat for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls and complaining over delayed seat-sharing negotiations.
In a further attempt to corner the Congress, the AAP offered just one of the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi to the grand old party while making its intentions clear that it would like to contest from the remaining six seats.
At a press conference following a Political Affairs Committee (PAC) meeting of the party, AAP general secretary (organisation) Sandeep Pathak declared Venzy Viegas as the party candidate from South Goa and Chaitar Vasva and Umeshbhai Makwana from the Bharuch and Bhavnagar seats in Gujarat.
Viegas, an AAP MLA, has been nominated from South Goa, a seat that was won by the Congress's Francisco Sardinha in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Pathak said on the basis of its vote share in the last Assembly polls in Gujarat, the AAP has demanded eight Lok Sabha seats in the state for itself, leaving the remaining 18 of the 26 seats for the Congress.
Pathak also said the AAP will contest all the 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab on its own. The discussions regarding Chandigarh, Haryana and other states should be held expeditiously, he demanded from the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA).
Claiming that the Congress insisted on contesting from Bharuch, Pathak said winnability and not "parivarwad" (dynasty) should be the criterion to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the polls.
"The Congress leaders claimed the Bharuch seat for emotional reasons as it was represented by late Ahmad Patel in 1984. They said Patel's daughter will contest from this seat. We will have to get rid of parivarwad if we want to defeat the BJP," he said.
Detailing the progress of the AAP's talks with the Congress over seat sharing, Pathak said two official meetings between the leaders of the two parties took place on January 8 and 12, which were inconclusive.
"No meeting took place with the Congress in the last one month, forcing us to hold this press conference," he said.
Nevertheless, the AAP leader asserted that his party stood firmly and honestly with the INDIA bloc and added that it expects that the opposition alliance will accept the candidates declared by the party.
The PAC meeting, chaired by AAP national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, decided to announce candidates from South Goa and the two seats in Gujarat for the Lok Sabha polls that are likely to be held in April-May.
Last week, the Kejriwal-led party unilaterally announced its candidates from the Guwahati, Sonitpur and Dibrugarh Lok Sabha seats in Assam.
"We are committed to doing whatever it takes to make the INDI alliance successful. But the objective of the alliance is to contest elections, win elections and give a new option to the country," Pathak said.
Asked about the AAP's move to announce its Lok Sabha candidates single-handedly despite being a constituent of the INDIA bloc, he said there is no clarity as to when the next meeting on seat sharing will be held.
"In such a situation, there is worry that it will be very difficult to win the election this way. This worry is the reason why I am sitting here today and I am sitting here with a heavy heart. There would have been no need to do this if we had talked," Pathak said.
The hard talk by the AAP over its alliance with the Congress ahead of the Lok Sabha polls puts another question mark on a possible seat-sharing arrangement between the two parties.
"We are not announcing candidates for Delhi today. I hope that the talks about Delhi will start soon and conclude very soon. Still, if there is no conclusion, we will announce the candidates from six seats in the next few days," Pathak said.
He said the AAP is staking claim on Lok Sabha seats based on merit and the winnability factor as well as its performance in previous polls.