Following its humiliating rout in the Delhi elections, the blame game has begun in the Congress. Former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Thursday blamed Ajay Maken, who led the party’s campaign, saying the campaign lacked “direction”, “vision” and “aggression”. Dikshit said she had raised the issue with both Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi during the campaign.
But P C Chacko, party in-charge of Delhi, targeted Dikshit and said the unresolved issues of her term hurt the party. “What she did not do… issues of water, electricity and unauthorised colonies probably were standing against the party during the elections,” he said. Chacko further said that Sonia has directed senior leaders to refrain from making such comments in public.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Dikshit said, “Those people who were making the strategy, it was their thinking and their approach to the whole thing which led to this kind of debacle. I don’t think they had a vision.” She alleged that the candidates were left to fend for themselves as there was no coordination.
Dikshit said she could only “pity” Maken, under whom the party drew a blank for the first time in the national capital. Dikshit said Maken wanted to do everything himself, a strategy which backfired. Taking moral responsibility, Maken has already submitted his resignation from the post of general secretary.
Asked about the decision to hand over the reins of the campaign to Maken, she said: “It was the party’s decision. I don’t want to comment on that . But the last minute decision to bring him and not field (Arvinder Singh) Lovely did create confusion.”
On Maken’s performance, she said: “I don’t want to make any personal comment or assessment. But I can say that he did not put the right focus on the campaign. His style did not help the Congress. I can only pity him.”
Dikshit alleged that the party campaign did not “speak about the 15 years of good work” done by her government which is “recognised by one and all including other parties.”
Dikshit, however, made it clear that Rahul should not be blamed, but added that the defeat would have an impact at the national level. She admitted that there is an impression among the people that the Congress leadership is not doing anything to revive the party after the Lok Sabha debacle.
“Rahul was not contesting the elections. It is a state election. The local leaders are responsible for planning and organising the elections. Elections are not only about giving speeches. They are more about organising,” she said. Asked who should be blamed, she said, “there is a PCC chief and a campaign committee.”
Reacting to her remarks, Chacko said: “She should not have said all this. She could have raised these issues within the party.” He said the party “did highlight her period very prominently” listing out “all the achievements of the Congress government with illustrations in the manifesto.”
“Maken led the campaign and fought as a candidate as per the directions of the party. What Dikshit has said is not the view of the party. Maken did his best and such comments are very unfair,” said Chacko. “The only difference between last time and this time was that she contested in the last elections, but did not do so this time. That was the only difference,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dikshit said the AAP’s stunning victory was possible because the Congress was not present. “They have taken our vote,” she said, adding that the Congress campaign should have been aggressive.
Asked whether she felt that the Modi magic was over, she said: “No, I would not say that. It depends on how he works. Because in politics or in governance, the moment matters. You can win and you can lose, you can be very popular with a particular scheme and you can be very unpopular at some point.”
When contacted, Delhi Congress president Arvinder Singh Lovley said, “We did 400 jan sabhas and the high command did six. I don’t know how we could have done better. I will meet Sheilaji and ask her how we could have campaigned better than we did.” He added that Dikshit had also campaigned in some seats.