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Cong, AAP hold seat-sharing talks for LS polls in Delhi, Punjab; decide to meet again

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NewsDrum Desk
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New Delhi, Jan 8 (PTI) The Congress and the AAP discussed seat-sharing prospects for the Lok Sabha polls in Punjab, Delhi and other states on Monday, and decided to meet again to give a final shape to the arrangements between the two key constituents of the INDIA opposition bloc.

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Top Congress leaders and members of the party's seat-sharing committee Mukul Wasnik and Ashok Gehlot were present at the meeting here while those from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) included Rajya Sabha MP Sandeep Pathak and Delhi ministers Atishi and Saurabh Bharadwaj.

The leaders of the two parties discussed the possibilities of seat sharing but did not divulge any details.

"We had a very good meeting. Senior AAP leaders attended the meeting for holding discussions with us on behalf of Arvind Kejriwal. The National Alliance Committee (NAC) formed by the Congress president held discussions with the AAP leaders and a final decision will be taken later," Wasnik told reporters after the meeting.

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"We had in-depth discussions regarding seat sharing and on various other topics. We will meet again after a few days and the final discussion on seat sharing will take place. We will give a final shape to the seat-sharing plans later. We will contest the election together with vigorous preparations and defeat the BJP," Wasnik, who is the convenor of the Congress's NAC, said.

"It would not be proper to reveal what transpired during the discussions. One has to wait for some time. We have already decided to contest the election together. The Congress and the AAP are important constituents in the INDIA bloc," he added.

A source in the AAP claimed that the decision on seat sharing will come through further meetings. The Kejriwal-led party has also expressed its willingness to contest the Lok Sabha polls in states, such as Gujarat and Haryana and Goa, the source said.

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Apart from Wasnik and Gehlot, Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely and senior party leaders Salman Khurshid and Mohan Prakash were present at the meeting.

The leaders agreed on maintaining coordination between the two parties. It was suggested by a Congress leader that a joint war room should be set up with representatives of both parties to ensure a positive outcome from the seat-sharing discussions and strategic management during the polls, sources said.

The AAP is in power in Delhi and Punjab. The Congress units in both the states are opposed to any truck with the AAP.

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The AAP leaders remained tight-lipped over the deliberations. However, the sources said both sides discussed the seats they are willing to contest in Delhi.

While the AAP wants to contest four of the seven Lok Sabha seats in the national capital, the Congress is eager to field its nominees from the New Delhi, Chandni Chowk and North East constituencies, they claimed.

The two parties were involved in seat-sharing discussions in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as well, but no consensus was arrived at as both wanted to contest four of the seven seats in Delhi.

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AAP convenor Kejriwal has already announced the name of jailed MLA Chaitar Vasava as the party's candidate from the Bharuch Lok Sabha seat in Gujarat.

The AAP has, in the past, shown reluctance to contest the Lok Sabha polls in Punjab in an alliance with the Congress.

The Congress has initiated talks with other parties of the INDIA bloc in different states and is in the process of finalising the seat-sharing arrangements with them.

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Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge had earlier said the party's seat-sharing committee is holding discussions with other parties in order to put up a united front against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in this year's Lok Sabha polls.

The BJP won all the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi in 2019, securing 56 per cent votes. The Congress had polled 22 per cent votes and the AAP 18 per cent votes. Both parties had failed to win a single seat in the national capital.

In none of the seven Lok Sabha seats, the combined vote share of the Congress and AAP candidates was more than the BJP nominees. ABU SLB SKC RC

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