New Delhi: Knives are out in the Congress after a section of party leaders praised the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal over the party’s win in the 2020 Delhi Assembly elections.
The latest exchange has pitted former union ministers Milind Deora and Ajay Maken against each other. On Sunday, as Kejriwal was sworn in as chief minister for the third consecutive term, Deora sought to point out how Delhi’s revenues had doubled during the AAP’s first term.
Sharing a lesser known & welcome fact — the @ArvindKejriwal-led Delhi Government doubled its revenues to ₹60,000 crore & maintained a revenue surplus over the last 5 years.
Food for thought: Delhi is now one of India’s most fiscally prudent governments pic.twitter.com/bBFjbfYhoC
— Milind Deora मिलिंद देवरा (@milinddeora) February 16, 2020
Maken, a senior party leader and former chief of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee, hit back, saying Deora could leave the party if he so wished and then “propagate half-baked facts”. He added that Delhi’s compound annual growth rate (CAGR) was stronger under the Congress’ 15 years [from 1998 to 2013] than under Kejriwal’s.
Brother, I would never undermine Sheila Dikshit’s stellar performance as Delhi CM. That’s your specialty.
But it’s never too late to change!
— Milind Deora मिलिंद देवरा (@milinddeora) February 17, 2020
Deora then took to Twitter to emphasise the strained relationship Maken is alleged to have shared with the late Sheila Dikshit, who led the Congress government in Delhi for three terms. He also weighed in on reports that Maken and a section of Congress leaders were batting for an alliance with the AAP ahead of the Lok Sabha elections — a proposition Dikshit was said to vehemently oppose.
“Brother, I would never undermine Sheila Dikshit’s stellar performance as Delhi CM. That’s your specialty. But it’s never too late to change! Instead of advocating an alliance with AAP, if only you had highlighted Sheila ji’s achievements, @INCIndia would’ve been in power today,” he responded to Maken’s tweet Monday morning.
‘Delhi unit left to fend for itself’
The 2020 Delhi assembly elections resulted in yet another spectacular win for the AAP, which won 62 of the union territory’s 70 seats.
The remaining eight were won by the BJP, while the Congress again failed to win even one. To make its loss even more bitter, its voteshare was down from 9.8 per cent in 2015 to 4.26 per cent.
Even so, some leaders of the party were effusive in their praise of the AAP’s victory because it managed to defeat the BJP.
Earlier, Sharmistha Mukherjee, daughter of former President Pranab Mukherjee, had expressed her displeasure over former finance minister P. Chidambaram’s tweet in praise of the AAP.
Radhika Khera, the Congress contestant from Janakpuri, had also lashed out at Deora Monday.
As a young first time contestant I find this extremely disappointing from our senior leaders, who instead of encouraging our own party to do better are busy patting AAP’s back!
Food for thought: Delhi has run a surplus since 1994, this peaked in 2011 under Sheila Ji. https://t.co/v1qp2vzTeq
— Radhika Khera (@Radhika_Khera) February 16, 2020
The cracks in the party come at a time when speculation is rife that Rahul Gandhi is set to return as party president. Sonia Gandhi has been serving as the interim president since Rahul stepped down in 2019 over the party’s second successive Lok Sabha rout.
A final decision on whether Sonia Gandhi will stay put as the president will be taken at the plenary session likely in April, sources said.
According to a Congress functionary, many members of the Delhi unit are upset about the fact that they did not get enough support from senior leaders for the elections.
“Everyone was left to fend for themselves whether it was campaigning or strategising. Now, that the results are out there, rather than looking into the party’s defeat and coming up with a strategy to bounce back, senior leaders are busy patting Kejriwal’s back,” the Delhi Congress leader said.