His party’s legislators in Delhi may be engaged in talks with the AAP leaders over government formation in Delhi, but senior party leader and former MP Sandeep Dikshit the Congress considers the AAP its main opponent in the capital.
“The first preference of the anti-Congress voter is the AAP and not the BJP. Our main battle is over the core voter and there the competition is one on one,” Dikshit told Newsline.
Dikshit said he would not give as much credit to the BJP for its victory as he would to the AAP for capitalising on the anti-Congress sentiment in Delhi.
While the BJP had won all seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi, the AAP had come in second in all seats, pushing the Congress to a distant third. Dikshit said the party’s core voters came mainly from the lower-income groups, resettlement and unauthorised colonies.
“Our challenge in reviving the Congress is the consolidation of our core vote,” he said. Dikshit said the reason for BJP’s victory was the party’s return to its core vote, the Hindus.
The morale of Congress workers in the capital has been plummeting like the party’s performance after three consecutive losses in the last two years. First the municipal elections of 2012, then the dismal performance of Delhi Assembly Elections in 2013 and more recently, the decimation in the Lok Sabha elections. The Congress has reached an all-time low in all three levels of governance with little representation in the civic bodies, just eight MLAs in the 70-member Assembly and no MP in the capital.
Dikshit also lost his seat to BJP’s Maheish Girri, who had contested Lok Sabha polls for the first time. Dikshit said he is ready to be in the Opposition for five years and ruled out any role for himself in Delhi politics.
Speaking on the need to re-energise party workers, Dikshit said, “This time, you change the way you communicate. I think you have to be far more aggressive in terms of quantum and style,” he said, adding that the recovery of the Congress party was not just Delhi-centric anymore. “There was some disillusionment with the Congress government at the Centre also,” he said.
While accepting the AAP as principal opponent, Dikshit blamed the party for the state of affairs in the city. Dikshit said this last Delhi elections had been all subsidy-based politics and its appeal to people. He said while the Congress was a mix of development and welfare, the AAP was all about welfare.
“All of Delhi’s major infrastructure projects are now three to four years behind. The population is expanding so fast that catching up is a problem,” he said.