Underestimated AAP,admit Congress ministers who lost

Congress leaders said say Kejriwal would not be able to keep the unrealistic promises made by AAP.

Written by Aniruddha Ghosal | New Delhi | Published: December 12, 2013 12:55:31 am

After being wiped out by the AAP and the BJP,the Congress is still trying to figure out what went wrong. Amid the chaotic exchange of blows,accusations and talk of introspection,the party admitted that it had underestimated the AAP.

And now,the Congress is trying to push AAP into forming the government with its support.

A day after Congress’s Delhi in-charge Shakeel Ahmed said the party was willing to extend support to the AAP,the Congress MLAs “challenged” the AAP to form the government.

This,sources said,was to make AAP come true on the promises made in the party’s manifestoes.

Congress MLAs blamed unrealistic promises made by the AAP as the primary cause behind their humiliating defeat.

In the AAP manifesto,the party had promised to slash electricity prices by 50 per cent and provide free supply of up to 700 litres of water per day,among other things. Former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had said “giving away sops will bankrupt the government” and argued that such populism could only work when it was “realistic”.

But,now the losing Congress realised that the “unrealistic” promises actually worked in the AAP’s favour.

“For a poor person,the promise of slashing power prices by half and giving free water,no matter how unrealistic,is reason enough to tempt them to vote differently,” Raj Kumar Chauhan,former PWD minister who lost to AAP’s Rakhi Birla by almost 9,000 votes,said. Chauhan had won four back-to-back elections in Mangolpuri,traditionally considered a Congress bastion.

Former Education minister Kiran Walia,who was defeated by AAP’s Somnath Bharti by over 12,000 votes,admitted they had underestimated the impact that AAP’s aggressive,guerrilla-style campaigning tactic of going to each and every house would have.

But she added that the promises made by Kejriwal were impossible to live up to. “It’s very easy to make these promises. But now Kejriwal is running away from his responsibilities. He is betraying the people of Delhi,” she said.

The view that the AAP won through a combination of “unrealistic promises” and their own blissful ignorance was echoed almost unanimously by a number of senior Congress leaders.

“We didn’t think that these vague promises would lead people to vote for them instead of us. We thought their inexperience would go against them. This wasn’t the case,” Subhash Chopra,former Kalkaji Congress MLA,said.

Mukesh Sharma,the former Congress MLA from Uttam Nagar and former parliamentary secretary to Dikshit,openly challenged the AAP.

“Arvind Kejriwal should practice the ‘honest’ politics he spoke of and keep his promises. Once he starts running Delhi,he will realise the impracticality of trying to slash electricity prices by half or provide free water. Right now,he’s running from his responsibilities,” he said.

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