Former Union Minister Ajay Maken has been named the Congress's face for the upcoming Delhi elections.
Faced with the challenge of regaining lost ground, Congress today appointed former Union Minister Ajay Maken as chairman of the party's 101-member campaign committee for the Delhi Assembly polls, marking the dawn of a new leadership in the national capital after the legacy of three-time Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.
"We have constituted a campaign committee for the Delhi Assembly polls. The 101-member committee will be headed by Ajay Maken," AICC in-charge of Delhi, PC Chacko, told a joint press conference with Mr Maken.
He said the central election committee of the party has cleared a final list of 45 candidates, and that it would be announced tomorrow. Among them are Sharmistha Mukherjee, daughter of President Pranab Mukherjee, and Mahabal Mishra, a former Congress MP.
Asked whether Mr Maken was the Chief Ministerial candidate of the Congress, Mr Chacko only referred to the party's practice of electing the leader of the legislature party by the MLAs after the polls.
Queried about Ms Dikshit's role, Mr Chacko said she has conveyed to the party leadership that she does not want to contest polls, and that she would campaign for the party.
Mr Maken said he was ready to take the challenge and would go to the voters based on his performance as Delhi's Transport Minister as well as Union Sports and Youth Affairs Minister, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs and Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister in the UPA government.
Mr Maken, who was made Transport and Power Minister in 2001 in the Dikshit cabinet, is credited with the privatisation of the electricity distribution, as well as strengthening transport infrastructure in Delhi.
In 2004, he was appointed the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Delhi, at the age of 39. He successfully contested the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, defeating BJP's Jagmohan in the New Delhi constituency. He retained the seat in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, but lost to BJP's Meenakshi Lekhi last year.