Weeks after its worst ever performance in elections in Delhi,the Congress on Thursday changed the leadership and appointed former Cabinet minister Arvinder Singh Lovely as the president of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC).
Lovely replaced J P Agarwal who had resigned on December 15 on moral grounds after the party was handed a drubbing in the Assembly polls.
Such was the Congress ignominy that their strength in the 70-member Delhi Assembly fell from 43 in 2008 to just eight this year. Former chief minister Sheila Dikshit lost to the AAPs Arvind Kejriwal by more than 25,000 votes,as did three Cabinet ministers.
In a press conference after the polls,Dikshit had publicly blamed lack of support from the party and no coordination for the poor show. Dikshit and Agarwal were reportedly not on the best of terms throughout the polling process.
The appointment of Lovely,considered close to Dikshit,as the party unit chief in Delhi indicates the former chief ministers measure of control in the capital. Another Cabinet minister,Haroon Yusuf,is tipped to head the Congress Legislative Party (CLP).
Speaking to Newsline after his appointment,Lovely (46),Delhis youngest PCC chief,maintained that as the Congress prepared for the polls,he intended to engage with the youth.
There were obviously some problems during this election. But the Congress is the oldest party and we will bounce back. I plan to engage with the youth in a big way if there is another election in Delhi, Lovely said.
He added that the Congress did not want to burden the people with another election and so had decided to support the AAP.
Asked about the partys poor performance,Lovely admitted that the Congress did not connect with the common man. We failed to make a connect despite the governments good performance over the past 15 years. We will have to use social media and the Internet better to take our achievements to the people, he said.
Lovelys appointment comes in the wake of political confusion in the national capital after the polls threw up a hung Assembly.
While the BJP,with 32 seats,has declined to form the government,the AAP,with 28 seats,is still undecided on taking the reins despite outside support from the Congress.
A senior congress leader said,He (Lovely) was the youngest Congress MLA and minister earlier. With AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi at the helm,young leaders are getting a chance.
However,others were not as convinced. He is young and inexperienced in cobbling together an entire party unit in a city like Delhi,which is diverse. We will have to hope for the best, a leader said.
But according to Lovely,the party would not focus only on another election.
We will gear up as soon as the AAP makes a decision. If another election is to be held,the Congress will be ready, he said.