MCD results: Congress workers blame Ajay Maken for party's rout
Congress continued its disastrous performance in elections after it was confined to the third position in the polls to the three municipal corporations in Delhi. While BJP managed to win all three corporations – North, South and East – with 181 seats, Congress managed to win only 30 seats, 18 less than Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that made a debut in the municipal elections.
On Tuesday, Congress claimed that it would win close to 70-80 seats. However, as the trends since Wednesday morning began trickling in, it became clear that it would be confined to a third position. Though Congress improved its performance compared to 2015 Assembly polls when it failed to even open its account, the party leaders squarely blamed Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken for the poor show at the MCD polls.
Owning responsibility for the defeat, Maken offered to resign and went on to claim that he would not take any party position for the next one year. Citing the doubling of the Congress' vote share, Maken labeled the party's performance as a reasonable comeback.
Party leaders have been claiming that while Congress' vote share stood at 9% during the 2015 assembly elections, it went up by 11% in the MCD polls. However, the two elections are fought on different issues. Moreover, AAP is contesting the MCD polls for the first time so any comparison is not justified.
Meanwhile, even within the party, Maken's words found no takers and workers blamed him for the mess the state unit of Congress is in. Leveling acucsations at him, party leaders and workers said that only if he had been a little more approachable and humble, Congress would have easily taken the second spot from the AAP.
“There is no doubt that BJP would have won the elections, but we could have done far better only if we had planned better. If Maken would have patiently heard his own workers, we would have finished second considering how AAP is increasingly losing credibility and popularity. His style was very dictatorial and we are paying the price for such an approach. Delhi Congress was being run on Facebook and Twitter and not on the ground,” said a senior Congress leader.
A Congress worker from Nilothi ward claimed that wife of local leader Anoop Shaukeen was given the ticket and that the two had done nothing in the last five years. As a result, an independent candidate won. “Similarly, wives of politicians were given tickets while genuine party workers were ignored. Our former Delhi women wing chief and youth president joined BJP at the eve of elections which sent a very wrong signal to the voters” he said.
Another party functionary claimed that the biggest setback of all was Arvinder Singh Lovely joining the BJP which led to many Congress voters deserting the party. He said, “Lovely was a minister for 10 years and he had good hold over the media, influential families, Sasi, Khatri, Punjabi and Sikh voters. During his tenure as minister, he obliged them and had a rapport with them. With his exit a substantial chunk of voters abandoned the Congress too. Even his media management was sorely missed.”
Even before the results were announced, former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit took a dig at Maken and said she was never invited for campaigning. She claimed that party was not able to reach out to the voters and that the central leadership should introspect. “People still respect the work done by her. If she would have campaigned, those who have seen her work would have voted. But, Maken thought otherwise,” the functionary added.
Not only this, Maken is also being blamed for not including local leaders in various committees including the manifesto committee. “There was no campaign committee. The likes of former Congress state chief like JP Aggarwal were completely ignored,” said another worker who went on to claim that Maken thought that he will repeat Captain Amarinder Singh's formula in Delhi.
“But he was never on the street. Captain organised Halke Vich Captain and Coffee with Captain, he campaigned amongst the people which Maken never did. Did he campaign extensively in jhuggis? No. If that would have happened, AAP's performance would have been even worse.”
There were voices who questioned why Captain and Navjot Singh Sidhu did not extensively campaign in Delhi. “They would have targetted AAP like they did in Punjab, but Maken thought he was above everyone else and doesn't need anyone,” said the functionary. He also claimed that Maken has only given his resignation, “it has not been accepted as yet”. Citing Digvijaya Singh's example, he said that the MP leader too had said he would not take any positions after his defeat in MP but he was soon made general secretary.
“Congress has to change this culture and hold people accountable or else we would be confined to third or fourth positions in various elections across India. As far as Delhi is concerned, we need someone who can work with the people and not just with leaders.”