AAP leader says pre-poll tie-up with like-minded parties needed

A pre-poll alliance among like-minded parties has become essential to save the country and democracy, senior Aam Aadmi Party leader Gopal Rai has said while asserting that the next generation will be put in grave danger if the opposition does not unite now.

He told PTI in an interview that parties that are still thinking of ‘being the leader’ of a possible united front against the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls have not understood the gravity of the situation at all.

The senior AAP leader’s comments come amid the Congress’ efforts to bring several like-minded parties together on a common platform in their fight against the BJP.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge had also telephoned Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on April 15, a day after the CBI summoned the AAP national convenor in connection with the excise policy case, and stressed the need for opposition parties to unite against the BJP ahead of the 2024 general elections.

Asked if the AAP will join hands with the Congress for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Rai said it has become essential for opposition parties to unite to save the country and democracy.

Efforts are being made to cripple the parliamentary system and to install a system sans opposition, Rai alleged and described it as a direct attack on India’s constitution and an indirect attempt to install autocracy in the country.

Efforts are being made to capture all institutions, be it the Enforcement Directorate, Central Bureau of Investigation, Election Commission and even the judiciary which is not normal. If these institutions lose their independence, India will lose all that it has gained in the last 75 years, he said.

“The Congress, AAP, Samajwadi Party, and the Left are small entities considering the scale of the present situation. The 2024 polls cannot be compared to conventional elections. These are entirely different circumstances… It (pre-poll alliance with like-minded parties) has become essential for the country. I think if we together do not resolve the problem now, it will put the next generation in grave danger,” Rai said.

Amid efforts towards opposition unity, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar met with his Delhi counterpart Kejriwal in the national capital last week. Kumar was accompanied by his deputy and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav.

Asked if the Congress should lead a united front of opposition parties, Rai said it’s not about being the leader, it’s about saving the country and democracy.

“The Congress also knows this is a different situation altogether. Those still thinking about being the leader have not understood the situation at all,” he added.

About his party’s plans after being elevated to national party status, Rai said the AAP will continue working to strengthen its organisational structure across the country.

“We are strengthening our organisational structure in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Assam. We are focusing on these states (ruled by the BJP and Congress) after becoming a national party,” he said.

Rai also said that the ‘bogus’ corruption charges levelled against Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain will not have any bearing on the party’s performance in Delhi in the general elections.

In the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) elections, the AAP did not do well in the areas under Sisodia and Jain’s assembly constituencies.

“The BJP fought the entire election based on the bogus allegations of corruption in the excise policy. Yet, we dethroned them, ending their 15-year rule. It should also be noted that we got fewer seats, 49, in the last MCD elections when there were no such allegations. So, it depends on how you see it,” Rai said.

He expressed confidence that the upcoming election of the mayor and deputy mayor of the MCD, scheduled for April 26, will proceed smoothly without any of the disruptions and controversies that characterized the previous mayoral polls.

“The aldermen, who are nominated members, were at the centre of the controversy surrounding the elections last time. The BJP wanted to give them voting rights. The Supreme Court ruled against it. The elections were conducted and the AAP won. I don’t think there should be any controversy this time,” the party leader said.

Under the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957, a new mayor and deputy mayor must be elected at the beginning of each financial year in April.

The BJP has fielded Shikha Rai and Soni Pandey for the upcoming election, despite not having adequate numbers in the House.

The AAP has re-nominated incumbent mayor Shelly Oberoi and deputy mayor Aaley Mohammad Iqbal for the positions.

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