Open war in Congress over Delhi debacle

Thursday, Feb 12, 2015,19:38 IST By metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | An open war today broke out in the Congress over its whitewash in the Delhi elections with senior leader Sheila Dikshit attacking Chief Ministerial candidate Ajay Maken and the party virtually asking her to shut up.
Knives were out in the party over the  debacle with Congress in charge of the party affairs in Delhi P C Chacko and DPCC chief Arvinder Singh Lovely strongly coming out backing the beleaguered Maken, who was the party’s chief ministerial face. I just pity him. Ajay Maken was not the way to put the right focus. He thought he would do all by himself. He did not involve anyone else. Quite obviously his style did not help the Congress party, 76-year-old Dikshit said, in a no-holds- barred attack on her younger rival in the party.
P C Chacko hit back at Dikshit saying that it was better for Dikshit to keep silence and said the party does not endorse her views.  Maken’s supporter and DPCC Chief Arvinder Singh Lovely said there was no benefit of giving advice after the elections.
Dikshit appeared to fault the last-minute decision to bring in Maken saying change was made in the last minute. Ajay Maken coming in and Arvinder Singh Lovely not contesting.   Maken could not enthuse the party. He failed to highlight the achievements of the Congress governments in the 15 years till 2013.  It was not my achievement. It was Congress’ achievement. They should have taken my name (during the campaign). Had they done it, the party would have done better, she said.
The former Chief Minister said she would soon go to party Chief Sonia Gandhi to discuss about the ways to revive Congress in Delhi saying it was currently in very bad shape and that she was pained to see it losing its support base so dramatically. Dikshit also indicated her willingness to take the responsibility to lead the party’s revival. It is up to the party high-command to take a decision on the issue, she said.
Chacko said Dikshit should not have made such a statement. As the AICC in-charge of Delhi, I have a request to all the Congress leaders to refrain from making any such statements.  He said Dikshit’s statement was totally unfair as Maken took the responsibility as chairperson of campaign on request of the party and contested the election on the directive of the party.  He (Maken) did his best for the elections and anybody saying anything otherwise is very, very unfair, Chacko said.
He said yesterday Lovely, Maken and himself met Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and discussed steps to revive the party.   Reacting to Dikshit’s comments, Lovely said she should have given the suggestions or her views about any other shortcomings before the polls.  She is our elder. We respect her a lot if she has any issue in conveying us, she should have conveyed her suggestions to the AICC, he said.
Dikshit also criticised the current Delhi Congress leadership for failing to appoint the block and district Congress committees before the polls. The committees were dissolved following party’s drubbing in assembly polls in 2013.  We must establish our units. The block units, district committees must be revived. We have to get in touch with the people. We must get back to the grassroots like we always been. We always had strong grass root contacts, she said.
The former Chief Minister said the drastic drop in vote share of Congress from 24 per cent in 2013 polls to around 9 per cent was a matter of serious concern.  It is a very painful outcome for all of us. What is even more worrying is the percentage of vote share having come down. Last time we got eight seats but percentage of voting was around 24. This time it came down so drastically, she said.   This is very worrying. The traditional support base. We have to make now concrete efforts to rebuild the party, to reinvent our contact with the people, she said.