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Leaders call out PC Chacko at Congress meet for ‘planting stories’ about infighting

Leaders blamed Chacko for spreading stories that the Delhi Congress was split between his own supporters and those of state chief Sheila Dikshit.

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New Delhi: The All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge for Delhi, P.C. Chacko, came under fire at a party meeting Friday for having “unauthorised conversations” with the media, ThePrint has learnt.

At least two senior leaders who attended the meeting said a few members had “called out” Chacko for speaking out about “infighting” within the Delhi Congress, a reference to reports that the state unit is split down the middle, with one faction supporting Chacko, and the other behind Sheila Dikshit, chief of Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC).

Congress president Rahul Gandhi attended Friday’s party meeting as well, though it couldn’t be verified if he was there during the alleged showdown.

“He (Chacko) should not be planting stories — that factions have been formed in the Congress, with one backing him and the other backing Sheila,” a senior leader told ThePrint. “It hurts the party’s interests.”

Chacko, the leader said, responded to the allegations by stating that members of the party had openly asked for his resignation after the Lok Sabha defeat, for which he was held responsible.

All of Delhi’s seven Lok Sabha seats were won by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) this year, with the Congress coming in a distant second in five seats.

“Why doesn’t he take responsibility for the defeat?” the leader asked. “He should offer to resign, Sheila Dikshit has already done that.”

Sources in the party had earlier said Chacko was at odds with Dikshit and the four DPCC working presidents for “not working at all”.

The meeting held Friday was aimed at discussing the upcoming assembly elections in the national capital, which are likely to take place in December or January, as well as the party’s defeat in the Lok Sabha polls.

The meeting and the result

Apart from Gandhi and Chacko, the participants at the meeting included Dikshit, working president Devender Yadav, as well as Arvinder Singh Lovely, J.P. Aggarwal, Ajay Maken and Mahabal Mishra, four of the party’s Lok Sabha candidates for Delhi.

Within hours of the meeting, Dikshit dissolved 280 block committees of the Congress in Delhi, purportedly headed by people selected by Chacko. The decision was taken on the basis of an inquiry conducted by a five-member team of the Congress set up to analyse the party’s Lok Sabha loss in the national capital.

According to the senior leader quoted above, party leaders also requested Gandhi to not step down as Congress president. However, Gandhi is said to have asserted that while he may not be president anymore, “he will continue to work for the party”.

Also read: Rahul Gandhi tells Congress to get a new chief, says he’s not changing his mind

Assembly elections on the horizon

The upcoming Vidhan Sabha polls remained the main topic of conversation at the meeting, with each of the Lok Sabha candidates present providing feedback on what happened in their constituencies.

“Rahul ji urged us all to work together for the party,” another leader who attended the meeting said. “Sheila ji has asked for 30 days to revamp the party, then another review meeting will be held.”

Both the leaders ThePrint spoke to asserted that everyone present “firmly backed Dikshit”, including former Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken, who had earlier differed with her on a possible alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party for the Lok Sabha elections.

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