The unity of INDIA opposition bloc has suffered back-to-back setbacks within hours, with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) declaring that it will contest all Lok Sabha seats in Punjab, shortly after Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee ruled out any alliance with Congress in West Bengal.
“The Aam Aadmi Party has shortlisted 40 candidates for the 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab. We are getting a survey done before finalising candidates,” Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said today.
The remarks came hours after Ms Banerjee’s explosive announcement that there is no tie-up with the Congress in Bengal and any decision on an alliance at the national level will be taken after the election.
The decision by Trinamool and AAP to go solo in their strongholds needs to be seen against the backdrop of a persistent tussle between the Congress and regional forces within the INDIA bloc.
While regional parties, specifically Trinamool, AAP and Samajwadi Party, have repeatedly demanded the leading role in their bastions, the Congress, determined to play the big brother role, has pushed for a bigger pie during seat-sharing talks at the state level.
In both Bengal and Punjab, attacks and counter-attacks between the Congress and the ruling party have continued unabated over the past few months, despite claims of unity at INDIA meetings. Both state Congress units – led by Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury in Bengal and Amarinder Raja Singh Warring in Punjab – have been opposed to an alliance at the state level and lost no opportunity in hitting out at the state governments.