New Delhi: Pitted against formidable rivals AAP and the BJP, the Congress faces an uphill task due to a lacklustre campaign and a host of other factors in the run-up to the February 8 Delhi Assembly elections.
Compared with the high-voltage public meetings organised by the ruling Aam Aadmi Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party across the national capital, the Congress leadership pitched in only in the last leg of the campaign.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addressed only four public meetings in Delhi, including two addressed along with sister Priyanka Gandhi. Sonia Gandhi’s maiden public meeting was cancelled due to her ill-health.
The Congress, which last ruled in Delhi from December 1998 to November 2008, also courted controversy when it left late Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s son Sandeep Dikshit, a two-time MP in the past, out of the star campaigners’ list even as the party harped on the development work done by the Congress governments led by her.
It also did not help the party cause when an upset Sandeep Dikshit claimed that his differences with certain party leaders had led to this situation.
Sandeep, however, put out a video series “Kaam ki Baat” to question the AAP’s claims on development in Delhi.
The absence of senior Congress leaders from the poll fray has also not gone down well with the party cadres and supporters. After Sonia Gandhi’s intervention, Arvinder Singh Lovely and Rajesh Lilothia entered the poll fight though senior Delhi leaders like Ajay Maken, Kiran Walia, JP Agarwal, and state unit President Subhash Chopra opted out. Chopra’s daughter Shivani Chopra, however, is contesting from Kalkaji.
Out of the 40 star campaigners arrayed by the Congress to woo voters in Delhi, former cricketer and Punjab politician Navjot Singh Sidhu failed to turn up for campaigning even as party Chief Ministers pitched in late during the campaign.
Asked to comment, Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said that the party campaign was good but remained out of the media’s focus. He scoffed at poll surveys maintaining that while the party was predicted to win only three seats in the Haryana Assembly elections last year, it ended up winning 31 seats.