- "Tired" of trying to convince Congress for tie-up, Arvind Kejriwal said
- "When did AAP ever come to us?" Congress chief Sheila Dikshit retorted
- Ms Dikshit held a party meeting to discuss candidates for all seven seats
At a public meeting last evening, Arvind Kejriwal repeatedly said he was "tired" of trying to persuade the Congress to agree to an alliance with his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi for the national election. Sheila Dikshit, the Congress chief in Delhi, retorted today, "When did AAP ever come to us? If Arvind wants an alliance, then he should directly speak to me."
The squabbling between the two parties makes a "gathbandhan (alliance)" in the capital a possibility that is becoming more and more distant with the national election just weeks away.
"I want to ask Arvind Kejriwal on what basis he made that statement. Because he has never once spoken on this with us. We never had any talks," said Sheila Dikshit, a former chief minister who replaced Ajay Maken as Delhi Congress chief last month.
She also held a party meeting to discuss candidates for all seven seats.
This is the second time Arvind Kejriwal has accused the Congress of rejecting a tie-up. The Delhi Chief Minister had said last week that the Congress had "almost said no" to an alliance.
On Wednesday, he repeated the charge, saying: "We are tired. Mana mana ke, mana mana ke thak gaye, gathbandhan kar lo, (tired of trying to persuade them to tie up with us) they don't understand. I don't understand what they are thinking," he said.
"If there is an alliance, the BJP will lose all seven seats in Delhi," said the Chief Minister. He accused Rahul Gandhi's party of weakening the opposition's fight in many states like this.
"What is the Congress doing in Uttar Pradesh? It is trying to weaken the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). In Delhi it is trying to weaken us..."
After Sheila Dikshit's remarks, AAP's Raghav Chaddha said, "It seems Sheila Dikshit has no clue what's happening in her own party and Rahul Gandhi does not talk to Sheilaji."
Earlier this month, Arvind Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi both attended a meeting of opposition leaders at Maharashtra politician Sharad Pawar's home in Delhi. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who also participated in the discussions, told reporters that AAP and Congress had been urged to consider tying up in Delhi.
The Congress president's comment indicated that his party was ready to go it alone in both Bengal and Delhi. "We will compete with each other as well," he said.
Mr Kejriwal's party was born out of the anti-corruption movement against the Congress over the demand of an anti-corruption body. In 2013, the Congress helped AAP take power in Delhi, but Mr Kejriwal quit after a 49-day stint over the anti-corruption Lokpal bill, adding to the acrimony. Two years later, AAP returned to power with a spectacular mandate and the Congress was wiped out. The Congress, say sources, believes AAP rode to power by eating into its vote-base.