Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken has expressed his desire to step down from his role owing to health reasons, top Congress sources said hours after it became known that he has left for Singapore to receive treatment for a debilitating back pain. The Congress denied rumours that Maken has quit. “Maken has not resigned. He has told Congress president Rahul Gandhi and informed me that he has some health problems. And he has gone for a medical check-up. He will be back on September 22,” AICC in charge of Delhi, P C Chacko, told The Indian Express.
Party leaders said he is suffering from recurring back pain and had travelled to Kerala some time ago for Ayurveda treatment. A senior AICC leader said Maken has already conveyed to the high command that “it would be difficult for him to continue”. Chacko, on the other hand, said Maken will continue to be the Delhi Congress chief.
“He (Maken) was told that the party would think about it after his return…” the leader said. His travel also set off a fair share of speculation. A section of the Congress leaders claimed some influential AICC leaders have been mounting pressure for the party to enter into a seat-sharing pact with the Aam Aadmi Party ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, which Maken is resisting.
“He, as Delhi Congress president, has been holding street protests and agitations against the AAP government. Now, a section of the party feels the Congress should enter into an alliance with the AAP to defeat the BJP… That could be one of the reasons for his unhappiness,” a senior Congress leader said.
A section of the party also said he could be eying a role in the AICC. Party sources also said that with Lok Sabha elections approaching, the Delhi Congress had started to hold protests on a daily basis, which Maken was struggling to attend. With a crucial phase coming up, party insiders said senior leaders like Sheila Dikshit could be considered to help the Delhi unit, with two working presidents who are young.
Congress has tried the ‘working president’ formula in Madhya Pradesh, in a bid to satisfy different factions. Sandeep Dikshit, Subhash Chopra, J P Agarwal could also get a bigger role in the days ahead.