After the Congress rattled to third place in Delhi's local election, Ajay Maken, indicted as the villain of his party's piece by several colleagues, said he is resigning as Congress chief in the capital. "I want to set an example, I will work as an ordinary worker," Mr Maken said to reporters, after a result that he described as "personally disappointing."
- Ajay Maken led Congress strategy for Delhi civic election
- BJP wins, AAP is No 2, Congress is last
- Maken blamed by top leaders like Sheila Dikshit for loss
Mirroring the weeks leading upto voting, today's result saw top leaders of the Congress engaging in unsubtle power play. Sheila Dikshit, 79, who served three terms as Delhi Chief Minister for the Congress and was forced to entertain persistent opposition from Mr Maken, said that the party's campaign for the three municipal corporations that were retained by the BJP today should have been more aggressive.
"I am like a son to her...I consider her my mentor," Mr Maken told reporters in response to Ms Dikshit's charges, while alleging that she and her son, Sandeep Dikshit, have been maligning him for years. "If they say we should have been aggressive, well I cannot show aggression to respond to the charges," he said.
Ms Dikshit, a popular and respected administrator in Delhi, said she had not been invited to campaign for the Congress. Other senior leaders including former ministers in her governments have made similar allegations of Mr Maken running a one-man show that forced unprompted errors in the selection of candidates, for example.
AK Walia had threatened to resign from the Congress in protest. AS Lovely went a step further by stretching his legs all the way over to the BJP, which he joined a week before voting. Both blamed Mr Maken for exclusionary tactics.
He suggested today that last-minute defections should be read as political opportunism. In his defence, he added that "We are the biggest gainer in vote share, you can't expect us to come back overnight."
In the last state election in 2015, the Congress won zero seats. Arvind Kejriwal's political start-up, the Aam Aadmi Party or AAP, won all but three, which it lost to the BJP. Today, the BJP effected revenge, keeping all three corporations and suggesting that the defeat of AAP equals voters exercising "the right to recall" the government it elected.
Hardly, said AAP leaders, who attributed their loss to faulty electronic voting machines. Spokesperson Ashutosh asked, "Did the PM resign after he lost the Bihar election?" to counter those who said Mr Kejriwal stands depleted of the moral right to remain in power.