AAP leader Raghav Chadha has predicted a “historic and decisive” win for the INDIA bloc in Thursday’s Chandigarh mayoral election, and billed the INDIA vs BJP contest as the perfect curtain-raiser for the Lok Sabha election due in April/May. “This will be an election where, for the first time, it will be INDIA vs BJP. After this election, the scorecard will be INDIA 1 – BJP 0,” he declared.
“INDIA will fight the Chandigarh mayor elections with all its strength, and register a historic and decisive victory. Don’t consider this an ordinary election. This will be the first time it will be INDIA vs BJP (and) after this, the scorecard will be INDIA 1, BJP 0,” Mr Chadha told reporters this morning.
“We think the clean sweep on January 18 will be the beginning for the 2024 Lok Sabha election…”
#WATCH | Delhi | AAP MP Raghav Chadha says, “INDIA Alliance will fight the Chandigarh Mayor elections with all its strength and register a historic and decisive victory. Don’t consider this an ordinary election. This will be an election where for the first time it will be INDIA… pic.twitter.com/l7d4Ej1kpg
— ANI (@ANI) January 16, 2024
Mr Chadha vowed that INDIA – a bloc of over two dozen opposition parties that will rely on a united front to stop Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP from claiming an unprecedented third term – will “liberate the people from the dictatorial and useless government at the centre”.
“This will set the tone… as to what will be the outcome of the upcoming India vs BJP contest. I believe this will prove that when INDIA contests together, one and one are not two… but eleven”.
Mr Chadha’s assertion comes amid signs of a thaw in relations between the AAP and the Congress over seat-sharing for the general election. The two parties had seemed poles apart on the topic, underlining rifts in the INDIA bloc amid squabbles over seats just weeks for polling booths open.
This week, though, the Congress and the AAP said they had arrived at a consensus for the mayoral election – one that will see the AAP contest the mayor’s post and the Congress for the two deputies.
Confirming the division of seats, Congress leader Pawan Bansal told reporters, “The result of this will be that our candidates from the INDIA bloc will be successful with a good majority.”
The AAP and the Congress have been discussing seat divisions for days now, with Mr Chadha part of a series of meetings last week in Delhi. Speaking after the second of those meetings, Mr Chadha told reporters jokingly, “… it is not like a cricket match, where we can give you ball-by-ball commentary.”
The AAP and the Congress (and the INDIA bloc) will hope accord in the mayoral election will aid talks over seat-sharing for the Lok Sabha election. The AAP is in power in Delhi and Punjab, where it ousted the Congress in a statement win in February last year, and is reluctant to give up ground.
In December the AAP’s Punjab unit threw a spanner in INDIA’s works and said it is unwilling to ally with its former rival. The final decision, however, depends on party boss Arvind Kejriwal.
Concerns over seat-sharing within INDIA were first red-flagged after the Congress’ dismal showing in last year’s Madhya Pradesh Assembly election; the party was expected to run the ruling BJP close but wound up the wrong side of a landslide win, prompting finger-pointing of its snubbing INDIA ally Samajwadi Party’s request to contest six of the state’s 230 seats. Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, whose ruling Trinamool is also wary of sharing seats with the Congress, led that charge.
In addition to the Madhya Pradesh defeat, losses in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh – both previously ruled by the Congress – were seen as eroding the national party’s ability to dictate terms in talks.
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