In Arvind Kejriwal's Punjab Announcement, Setback To INDIA Bloc Unity

The Delhi chief minister declared that the party will contest all 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab and one in Chandigarh.

Mr Kejriwal's statement will add to the turmoil in the opposition grouping.

New Delhi:

In yet another setback for the opposition INDIA bloc, the Aam Aadmi Party has said it will announce candidates for all 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab, signalling that there will be no alliance with the Congress in the state.

The announcement that the AAP will contest all 13 seats in the state and 1 in Chandigarh was made on Saturday by party chief Arvind Kejriwal, who also took a dig at the Congress and said people in Punjab would be hard-pressed to remember any "good work" that his INDIA ally had done when it ruled the state.  

The Delhi chief minister's statement will add to the turmoil in the opposition grouping, which is already reeling from Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee's declaration that her party will go solo in West Bengal, and is yet to recover from the loss of one of its principal architects, Janata Dal (United) President Nitish Kumar, who switched to the BJP-led NDA last month. 

The situation is unclear in Uttar Pradesh, where there have been signs of an agreement between the Samajwadi Party and the Congress, but there is also strong speculation of another INDIA ally, the Jayant Chaudhary-led Rashtriya Lok Dal, joining hands with the NDA. The buzz has grown stronger since the government announced that the Bharat Ratna will be conferred posthumously on former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh, who was Jayant Chaudhary's grandfather. 

Speaking at a public event on the doorstep delivery of ration in Punjab, Mr Kejriwal said in Hindi, "The Lok Sabha elections will be held in two months... Punjab has 13 seats and Chandigarh has one. In the next 10-15 days, the AAP will announce its candidates for all 14 seats. I request you to give us your blessings like you did (during the Punjab Assembly election) two years ago, and ensure that the AAP sweeps all 14 seats." 

The AAP had won 92 of the 117 seats in the state in the Assembly election. 

"The Bhagwant Mann government has done such good work in less than two years, including giving free electricity. The Congress ruled (the state) for so many years in the past 75 years. If I ask you to tell me one good work the Congress has done, you will not be able to remember. If I ask you for one good thing that Akali Dal had done, you will not remember," the AAP chief said.

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had also said in January that the Aam Aadmi Party would contest the Lok Sabha polls alone in the state.