With Single-digit Score in MCD Polls, Clueless Congress Needs Full Overhaul to Recapture Delhi’s Dil

“Congress has become like the hair loss problem. You lose hair slowly over time, till one day you realise you have gone bald. It doesn’t happen overnight.” This is what a Congress leader told News18, capturing the state of the party in Delhi on the day the civic election results came out.

While the Aam Aadmi Party won the municipal corporation of Delhi (MCD) polls, the outgoing BJP managed to put up a strong performance. The Congress though won only 9 wards with 188 of its candidates losing their deposits.

This in Delhi where the Congress ruled for 15 years. The party has zero MPs and MLAs from here now. It’s a story of infighting, ego clashes, and some wrong choices.

After the Congress lost to AAP in 2013, with even Sheila Dikshit losing her seat, the party had to do something just ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. But nothing changed. When the party lost again in 2020, knives were out. PC Chacko, who was Delhi incharge, blamed Sheila.

In 2013, when AAP’s win was hailed as a win against bluff by Chidambaram, Sharmistha Mukherjee hit out asking whether Congress should shut shop in the state. Maken who had strained relations with Sheila was made the state unit chief in 2015 but quit ahead of Lok Sabha polls in 2019. Sheila was brought back as Delhi unit chief, but when the Congress failed in 2019, she was blamed, and after her death, there have been many lacklustre changes. The performance of Arvinder Singh Lovely and present Delhi unit chief Anil Chaudhary has not been up to the mark. There is a growing demand to hold those accountable who have not been able to energise the party, and to take them to task.

In fact, Lovely, considered close to Sheila, had refused to contest as MLA despite Sonia Gandhi’s appeal and being state unit chief, while Maken had agreed to and did contest in 2015. The Congress got zero.

The fact is that examples like West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, and Delhi show that a wishy-washy attitude, and not giving chances to younger leaders has meant that the Congress has lost its base. AAP has occupied the Congress space not just in Delhi but slowly in other states as well. Punjab is a glaring example. In fact, despite a long list of star campaigners for MCD polls, many of them failed to turn up. A leader in Delhi Congress said, “No one wants to hit the ground anymore. Shaktisinh Gohil has been made incharge of the state, but will he be held accountable, or has he been rewarded by being made incharge of Haryana as well?”

Sources say that changes could be made. Ajay Maken who recently quit as Rajasthan incharge, has refused to be incharge of Delhi anymore. But chances are that someone considered close to him could be the new state unit chief. The challenge is to bring Congress back to reckoning in the state. In fact, missing during the MCD campaign was former MP and Sheila Dikshit’s son Sandeep Dikshit. An attempt is being made to bring all of them back. But some senior old-time Congress leaders feel that with changes not being made on time, they are rendered unelectable and this means their future becomes bleak.

The state of the Congress in Delhi, which is called “India ka Dil”, is yet another example of how the Congress when out of power for long also gives up any planning. In her last elections before her death, Sheila Dikshit had coined the slogan, “Meri Dilli meri shaan”, similar to what the Congress did in these MCD polls to revive her legacy. The sheen has gone off the Congress even as it struggles to win over the people.

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