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Lok Sabha Phase 6: As Delhi Votes Today, What’s At Stake For AAP-Congress & BJP?

Will the AAP-Congress alliance be able to pose a tough fight to the BJP?

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"There are no permanent friends or enemies in politics. Never did we think that Congress and AAP will come together and fight an election. Why? Because we need to save democracy. We need to save the country from the BJP. Delhi will give a befitting response to Kejriwal's arrest on 25 May."

This was what Banarasi Dubey, 48, an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supporter and resident of West Delhi's Model Town, told The Quint last week, during a roadshow of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

Overhearing our conversation was a 62-year-old vegetable vendor. Pointing towards the crowd, the vendor, who did not wish to be named, said:

"How can we trust a party which, one day fights against each other, and once together... We (voters) won't be fooled. We know what [PM] Modiji has done for this country. It's a national election, the BJP has and will continue to dominate Delhi."
Vegetable Vendor to The Quint
Will the AAP-Congress alliance be able to pose a tough fight to the BJP?

At Arvind Kejriwal's first rally campaigning for INDIA bloc candidates in West Delhi on 15 May

(Photo: Varsha Sriram/The Quint)

As Delhi votes on Saturday, 25 May in the sixth phase of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, it is this loyalty of supporters like Dubey and the vendor that is on test.

Not only is it a prestigious battle between 'Modi factor' and the BJP's 'anti-corruption' narrative vs the Kejriwal-led AAP's guarantee schemes, but the election has also become more of a battle between national vs local issues.

What's at stake this time in Delhi, who are the key candidates in the seven constituencies, and most importantly, will the AAP-Congress alliance be able to pose a tough fight to the BJP? The Quint takes a closer look.

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AAP-Congress Vs BJP: A Two-Way Fight?

While the AAP has been a dominant force in Delhi's electoral playfield, it has failed to win even one Lok Sabha seat from the national capital, with the BJP sweeping all seven seats in 2014 and 2019, riding on the back of PM Narendra Modi’s popularity.

In 2024, both AAP and Congress believe that there's a stark difference: In 2014 and 2019, both parties fought against each other and against the BJP, making it a triangular contest.

But this time, they are allied together, with AAP contesting four (New Delhi, East Delhi, South Delhi, West Delhi) out seven seats, and the Congress the remaining three (Chandni Chowk, Northeast and Northwest Delhi).

Before the parties could begin campaigning in full-swing, Delhi CM Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on 21 March in an excise policy-linked money laundering case, leaving the AAP in disarray.

Though the AAP brought in Kejriwal's wife Sunita into the picture and initiated a 'Jail ka jawab vote se' campaign, it was missing its star campaigner. You can read our ground report here.

The alliance, too, got off to a rocky start, with a lack of coordination between the two parties. To add on, was the resignation of Delhi Congress president Arvind Singh Lovely, and four other party leaders, who later joined the BJP. You can read more about this here.

But the real turning point came when the Supreme Court on 10 May granted the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief interim bail till 1 June to campaign for the Lok Sabha elections. With Kejriwal back on ground, AAP cadres were enthused. You can read our ground report here.

The AAP hopes to gain sympathy from Kejriwal’s arrest, terming it a political vendetta. In most of his campaign speeches, he reminded voters about his guarantee schemes (free water, electricity, bus services for women) and asked them to vote for the party to ensure that he won't have to go back to jail.

Meanwhile, the Congress is hoping for a resurgence in Delhi a decade after it was pushed out of the national capital by AAP and wishes to convince its voters that they were fighting a larger battle to save democracy.

The BJP, on the other hand, relied on PM Modi's 'development agenda. While it underlined the "failures" of the Congress during its rule at the Centre, leaders attacked the AAP over "corruption" charges and local issues.

The BJP also sought to capitalise on AAP's handling of the Swati Maliwal issue, more of which you can read here.

The Key Contests

  • New Delhi: Home to the residences of India's top officials including the President and Prime Minister, this is a high-profile seat. This time, the BJP has fielded Bansuri Swaraj, lawyer and daughter of late Union minister Sushma Swaraj. She will take on AAP's Somnath Bharti.

While Swaraj, a newcomer in politics, has been leveraging her mother's legacy, Bharti, a three-time MLA from Malviya Nagar, banks on AAP’s local governance appeal.

Will the AAP-Congress alliance be able to pose a tough fight to the BJP?

This time, the BJP has fielded Bansuri Swaraj, lawyer and daughter of late Union minister Sushma Swaraj. She will take on AAP's Somnath Bharti.

(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

  • Northeast Delhi: Here, the Congress’ Kanhaiya Kumar is contesting against two-time MP Manoj Tiwari. While Kumar, a former student leader from JNU, is known for his oratory skills, Tiwari is eyeing for a third-consecutive term and is the only candidate who has been repeated by the BJP.

What makes this an interesting battle is that both Tiwari and Kumar hail from Bihar and would be eyeing a major chunk of Purvanchali votes to get ahead in the race. Also, Muslim population stands at 29.34% in this constituency, as per the 2011 Census.

The elections also come four years after communal riots rocked northeast Delhi, which killed at least 53 people (38 Muslims and 15 Hindus) and injured hundreds.

Will the AAP-Congress alliance be able to pose a tough fight to the BJP?
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  • East Delhi: The constituency will witness a direct clash between AAP's Kuldeep Kumar and BJP's Harsh Malhotra. While Malhotra was former Mayor of the then East Delhi Municipal Corporation, Kumar is the incumbent MLA from Kondli.

In 2019, the seat witnessed an intense triangular contest between BJP's Gautam Gambhir, Congress's Arvinder Singh Lovely (now in BJP), and AAP's Atishi.

Northeast Delhi and East Delhi are seats which fall near the polluted Yamuna River. What do people living alongside the river have to say about the 2024 elections? Read our ground report here.

Will the AAP-Congress alliance be able to pose a tough fight to the BJP?

The constituency will witness a direct clash between AAP's Kuldeep Kumar and BJP's Harsh Malhotra.

(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

  • Chandni Chowk: This constituency will witness a fight between BJP's Praveen Khandelwal, a businessman and trade union leader, and Congress' Jai Prakash Agarwal. In 2019, Agarwal lost the election to BJP's Dr Harsh Vardhan by a margin of 2.28 lakh votes.

A seasoned politician, Agarwal had previously been elected from Chandni Chowk in 1984, 1989, and 1996. The trading community holds the key to the constituency.

Will the AAP-Congress alliance be able to pose a tough fight to the BJP?

This constituency will witness a fight between BJP's Praveen Khandelwal, a businessman and trade union leader, and Congress' Jai Prakash Agarwal.

(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

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  • South Delhi: This seat will witness a two-way clash between BJP's Ramvir Singh Bidhuri and AAP's Tughlakabad MLA Sahi Ram Pahalwan. Both the candidates belong to the influential Gujjar community.

From 30 April to 1 May 2023, 5,000 bastis in the Churiya Mohalla near South Delhi's historical Tughlakabad Fort were demolished, affecting 2.5 lakh individuals. Read our ground report where we spoke to residents affected by the demolition, and who they will vote for this time.

Will the AAP-Congress alliance be able to pose a tough fight to the BJP?

This seat will witness a two-way clash between BJP's Ramvir Singh Bidhuri and AAP's Tughlakabad MLA Sahi Ram Pahalwan.

(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

  • West Delhi: BJP’s Kamaljeet Sehrawat is pitted against AAP’s Mahabal Mishra. Mishra, who belongs to the Purvanchali community, and won the seat on a Congress ticket in 2009.

Will the AAP-Congress alliance be able to pose a tough fight to the BJP?

BJP’s Kamaljeet Sehrawat is pitted against AAP’s Mahabal Mishra.

(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

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  • Northwest Delhi: This constituency will witness a clash between Congress' Udit Raj and BJP's Yogendra Chandolia. Raj, a former IRS officer and Dalit leader, won the seat as a BJP candidate in 2014. He switched to Congress in 2019.

Will the AAP-Congress alliance be able to pose a tough fight to the BJP?

This constituency will witness a clash between Congress' Udit Raj and BJP's Yogendra Chandolia.

(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

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