Former Union Minister and Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken has expressed complete disagreement with the idea of Congress-AAP electoral tie up in Delhi to keep the BJP away at Centre. In an interview to WION, Maken said the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is being rejected by people of Delhi and the Congress should not provide it political oxygen by going into an alliance in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress, which is hosting a grand Iftaar in the capital has chosen not to invite the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP.Maken said that a fragmented opposition will not work against the BJP and the Congress, under the leadership of president Rahul Gandhi, will have to regain its space as the principal party against the BJP. Maken spoke to WION’s Kartikeya Sharma on the possibility of Congress-AAP tie up and several other issues in an exclusive interview. Excerpts: Kartikeya Sharma: How do you evaluate AAP’s performance in Delhi?Ajay Maken: AAP has slipped in Delhi. Consistently their vote percentage has gone down. From the Municipal elections to Rajouri Garden bypolls, AAP’s vote share has decreased. Rajouri Garden was a seat which AAP had won by a huge margin. AAP was third (in the bypoll) and came behind the Congress. This has happened because they have been unable to fulfil the promises they made before the 2015 Assembly elections.Q: Do you feel that Delhi has suffered because of AAP’s national ambitions?A: Delhi has suffered simply because AAP does not know how to govern. Since coming to power they have been trying to create an artificial confrontation with the BJP for political ends. One cannot rule by confrontation. Delhi is a Union Territory and one needs to build consensus with stakeholders. Being a bureaucrat, Kejriwal should have known this but again AAP does not know what governance is. We never compromised on the interest of the people when we were in power.Q: What is your view on one seat one candidate proposed arrangement to challenge the BJP?A: My opinion is that a strong Congress is required at the Centre to counter BJP-RSS. One seat, one candidate is a good concept, but fragmented Opposition does not work. We have seen that in the past too. You need a strong party in the Opposition as there is a political life beyond elections too.Q: Should this proposal apply on Delhi as well?A: No, it should not. Even the Chief Minister of Punjab (Captain Amarinder Singh) is opposed to this idea to stop the BJP. AAP is losing ground and when they are being rejected by people why should we supply them political oxygen. AAP is an opportunist party. It is not a secular party. Kejriwal is ideologically hollow. He was the one who tied up with Baba Ramdev and Kiran Bedi. If he gets a concession from the BJP, he will side with them.Q: Are you saying that alliances should be state specific?A: Alliances have to be crafted on a state to state basis after consulting the state leadership. Q: What is the Congress roadmap to recovery under you?A: Congress needs understanding within the party more than help from the outside. We have conducted surveys and found that people very fondly remember 15 years of Sheila Dikshit’s regime. We will win elections on our own. We cannot undermine the strength of the Congress workers in the state. In the past two decades, Congress was able to defeat BJP thrice. In order to come back, we don’t need assistance. We have bench strength in leaders like Sheila Dikshit, Mahabal Mishra, JP Agarwal and Sandeep Dikshit. If we work together, we will defeat both the AAP and the BJP.
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