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Gujarat: AAP, Cong reach seat-sharing deal

Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have reached a seat-sharing agreement ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, causing a stir in Gujarat, especially over the contentious Bharuch seat. The pact, announced on Saturday, to give the Bharuch seat in Gujarat to AAP, has sparked debates.

Outlining the broader strategy, Congress General Secretary and MP, Mukul Wasnik, stated, “Gujarat has 26 Lok Sabha seats. Congress will contest on 24, leaving Bharuch and Bhavnagar for AAP.” This arrangement is part of the INDIA bloc’s efforts to consolidate opposition unity and challenge the ruling party in the upcoming elections.

The decision has not gone down well with all, particularly by members closely associated with the Bharuch constituency. Earlier on Friday, Mumtaz Patel, the daughter of the late Ahmed Patel, a veteran Congress leader with deep ties to Bharuch, voiced her concerns, saying, “This seat traditionally belongs to Congress, and its potential reallocation has demoralised many within our party.”

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Bharuch is an important seat, here’s why: The efforts to protect the seat were also done by Faisal Patel, Ahmed Patel’s son. He expressed his discontent in a letter to the party leadership, highlighting the emotional and political significance of the Bharuch seat to his family and the Congress party. He pointed out the demographic composition of Bharuch and the electoral history, including his father’s victories from 1977 to 1984, to argue against the seat-sharing decision. Faisal Patel warned that ceding Bharuch to AAP could replicate the adverse impacts seen in Delhi and Punjab, where Congress’ presence has waned.

The Bharuch seat has been a stronghold for the BJP since 1989, with Mansukh Vasava securing it for the party in six consecutive terms. The AAP’s performance in the region, particularly their win in Dediapada during the 2022 Gujarat polls, has been cited as a factor in the seat-sharing discussions.

However, concerns about diluting Congress’s traditional support base and jeopardising its chances of reclaiming the seat have led to calls for a reconsideration of the agreement. As the Congress-AAP alliance navigates, these internal disputes, the outcome of their deliberations on the Bharuch seat remains a focal point of interest in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.

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