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How Congress is alienating itself from Opposition by not supporting AAP in Delhi standoff

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New Delhi, June 18: As the tug-of-war between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal continues for the last few days, it is the Congress which is looking alienated from the rest of the anti-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) forces.

It has been a week since Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and a few of his colleagues from the AAP are sitting in a dharna at the LG's office in the national capital. They want to meet Baijal to ask him to end the four-month-long "boycott" of the IAS officers against the AAP government and get the LG's permission for a doorstep delivery system.

opposition

However, the LG is in no mood to listen to the demands of the AAP government and in fact, Baijal has stopped coming to his office since Kejriwal and his men have been sitting in a "sofa protest" inside his office. Reports say the LG is "temporarily" running his office from his residence only.

AAP and its bitter history with both BJP, Congress

The AAP shares a hostile relationship with both the BJP and the Congress as the party defeated them in the last Delhi Assembly elections handsomely. In the last few weeks, things were looking little better between the AAP and the Congress as they came together under one platform during the swearing-in ceremony of Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy in May.

There were also reports that the AAP and the Congress would stitch an alliance in Delhi for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls scheduled in April/May next year. While the Congress leaders in Delhi denied any such move, the AAP mostly remained "mum" about the rumours as backroom talks between a section of the Congress and the AAP were also not refuted.

Along with the BJP, the Congress too has vociferously criticised the AAP for its latest protest because of which Delhi's administration has come to a standstill. The relationship between the AAP and the Congress, like the former's equation with the saffron party, has always been "toxic" leading to several spats in the past too.

How regional parties and left support for AAP will impact LS polls

As chief ministers of four states governed by opposition parties--West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee, Andhra Pradesh's Chandrababu Naidu, Karnataka's Kumaraswamy and Kerala's Pinarayi Vijayan--showed solidarity with the AAP and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to resolve the Delhi "constitutional crisis" during their recent visit to the national capital on the sidelines of the NITI Aayog meeting--the Congress seemed to have distanced itself from the other opposition parties.

When reporters asked West Bengal CM regarding the Congress' position in the whole Delhi impasse, Banerjee had hit out at the grand old party for its "anti-AAP" stand.

Opposition unity: Where does Congress stand?

In the last few weeks, opposition parties, mostly the regional parties, came together to forge an alliance against the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. The opposition unity got a morale boost when it managed to keep the BJP out of power in Karnataka as the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) forged an alliance and formed the new government in the state in May.

Then the unity among a motley group of political parties got further credence when they managed to defeat the BJP in the recent by-polls held in several states. The Congress too has been a constant part of the opposition unity as several political parties continuously showed support to each other against the ruling BJP regime.

The position taken by the Congress in regard to the Delhi crisis has surprised many in the opposition ranks. The Congress had called the AAP protest against the LG a "drama" and accused the party of having no "ideology".

Anti-BJP, anti-Congress front in the making?

On Sunday, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, who is considered to be close with former party president Sonia Gandhi, met Banerjee in Delhi. The meeting between the West Bengal CM and Patel in the background of the AAP-LG standoff was seen as a desire of the Congress to remain a part of the Opposition against the BJP.

Recently, Congress president Rahul Gandhi hosted an iftar party in the national capital where several top leaders of the opposition parties graced the occasion. But many, including Banerjee, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati skipped the iftar party and had sent only their representatives.

The reports of the BSP not going for an alliance with the Congress for the upcoming Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections, scheduled in December this year, is a clear indication that the opposition parties are still not very welcoming to the Congress as it continues with its "flip-flop" over the Opposition unity--something well-demonstrated in the latest Delhi episode.

Delhi crisis and its national impact

The genesis of the latest tussle between the AAP and the LG goes back to the episode of the alleged physical assault of Delhi chief secretary Anshu Prakash by AAP MLAs in February this year. Since then, the IAS officers have been "boycotting" the AAP by allegedly not cooperating in any of the Delhi government-related work.

The IAS officers on Sunday said that they were not on a "strike" as alleged by the AAP and had cried foul over being "victimised" in a political fight involving the AAP and the BJP. Later, Kejriwal ensured that the AAP government would protect the IAS officers as they were a part of the "family".

The AAP alleged that the entire Delhi crisis has been orchestrated at the behest of the BJP to weaken its government. On Sunday, hundreds of AAP members took out a huge rally against the IAS officers' strike and marched towards the PM's residence in the national capital. The police stopped the rally midway before it could have reached the PM's house.

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