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In Big News For INDIA, AAP-Congress Finalise Delhi Seat Deal: Sources

New Delhi: The Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party are on the verge of a deal to divide Delhi's seven Lok Sabha seats, sources told NDTV this morning. This comes a day after the former agreed a deal with the Samajwadi Party for the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh - the first major accord between members of the INDIA opposition bloc.

The Congress and the AAP - who delivered INDIA's first win (after the Supreme Court intervened) in the Chandigarh mayoral polls - have reportedly agreed a four-three split in the latter's favour.

A statement is expected soon - possibly as early as 5 pm - after the two parties met at Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal's home. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, AAP leader Atishi said, "Talks are going on regarding seat sharing in Delhi, we hope it will happen soon."

When the deal is announced, the agreement will be another significant step forward for the Congress-led bloc, which has struggled to convince with just weeks to go for the election.

Can Delhi Deal Pave Way For Punjab?

Whether the Congress-AAP's Delhi's alliance will help break the deadlock in Punjab is not yet clear. Hope of an agreement in that state - which the AAP won off the Congress in February 2022 - were dashed after Arvind Kejriwal last week said his party would contest all 13 seats in the border state.

The AAP boss took a swipe as he did so, declaring the people of Punjab would be hard-pressed to remember any "good work" by the previous administration. He also made it clear his party intends to field a candidate for the sole Lok Sabha seat in Chandigarh, held by the BJP's Kirron Kher since 2014.

The Congress-AAP's inability to find common ground in Punjab has underlined tension within the INDIA bloc, with smaller/regional members unable to agree seat-share deals with the former party.

In Punjab that inability has been exacerbated by opposition by their state leaders. Last month one of the Congress' top state leaders, Partap Singh Bajwa, told NDTV it is not possible for the two to be allies.

"This is what Congress cadre in Punjab (always) wanted... (In Punjab) they are in the government and we are the principal opposition. How can both of us get together...," Mr Bajwa said.

"If we get together... anti-incumbency vote (will go) either to BJP or Akali Dal..." he had warned.

Set up in June, to unite the opposition and defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party - the opposition grouping has already lost a key member - Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United) and, potentially Jayant Chaudhary's Rashtra Lok Dal - both to the BJP.

Bengal's ruling Trinamool has pulled back to the fringes of the bloc, snubbing seat-share talks after incessant attacks on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee by the Congress' Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

The Congress-Samajwadi Party Deal

An agreement with the Samajwadi Party also seemed unlikely, as recently as 48 hours ago.

That, however, was turned around after Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra stepped in; sources told NDTV she reached out personally to SP boss Akhilesh Yadav to work out the minutiae of a deal.

Eventually, the two agreed to a 63-17 divide of UP's 80 seats, with the Congress getting its family bastions of Raebareli and Amethi, as well as Mr Modi's constituency of Varanasi.

Candidates have not been named yet, but there is already speculation this could be Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's much-awaited electoral debut, with all three a possibility.

Sonia Gandhi shifting from the Lok Sabha to the Rajya Sabha leaves Raebareli open, Rahul Gandhi likely remaining with Kerala's Wayanad means Amethi is also an option. And, of course she could be fielded from Varanasi to go head-to-head with the Prime Minister in what will be an epic political battle.

Source: NDTV

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