Three-time chief minister Sheila Dikshit appeared isolated as the crisis within the Delhi Congress deepened on Wednesday. A review meeting called by Dikshit — who was appointed as the Delhi unit head before the Lok Sabha polls — to assess reasons behind the party’s defeat had to be cancelled at the last moment, after several senior leaders failed to turn up.
A five-member committee formed by Dikshit was scheduled to meet the seven candidates at 11 am Wednesday. A letter regarding this was sent to the candidates Tuesday evening, followed by phone calls and messages which went unanswered.
“Since no one responded, we waited till morning. It eventually had to be cancelled for today,” said a senior Congress leader.
As reported by The Indian Express, the state unit first witnessed signs of trouble over Dikshit’s choice of members to be included in the committee.
Several senior leaders had also questioned the sanctity of the committee formed by Dikshit to look into reasons for the Congress’s defeat. The committee, comprising former MP Parvez Hashmi, former Delhi ministers Dr A K Walia and Dr Yoganand Shastri, AICC national spokesperson Pawan Khera and ex-MLA Jai Kishan, had been asked to submit its report to Dikshit within 10 days.
Many party leaders alleged the decision to form the committee was taken without keeping them in the loop. Sources said three working presidents of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee were not involved in the process.
Three of the Lok Sabha candidates The Indian Express spoke to confirmed they did not attend the meeting. East Delhi candidate Arvinder Singh Lovely and West Delhi candidate Mahabal Mishra said they were not in Delhi, while Chandni Chowk candidate J P Agarwal claimed he was unwell.
“I am not in Delhi due to a family emergency,” said Mishra.
“I am unwell and can’t attend any meeting,” Agarwal said.
Around 1 pm, a message was circulated among party leaders and workers to reach 12, Tughlak Lane to meet party president Rahul Gandhi and persuade him to change his mind on resigning from the post of president.
The protest, led by Dikshit, however saw support from only three Lok Sabha candidates, with party heavyweights Ajay Maken, Lovely, Agarwal and Mishra giving it a miss.
The party attributed the change in plans to the protest at 12, Tughlak Lane that took place during the day. “We’ve postponed the meeting for Thursday. Most of the candidates said they will be busy with the protest outside Rahul ji’s residence,” Khera, one of the committee members, told The Indian Express.