Infighting surfaced in the Delhi Congress on Monday when a veteran leader demanded the removal of Sheila Dikshit as its president over the party’s debacle in the national capital in the recent Lok Sabha poll. In a letter to party chief Rahul Gandhi, ex-chairman of the erstwhile Delhi Metropolitan Council, Purushottam Goyal, asked for her removal and suggested that the party contest assembly polls early next year with a “fresh face”at the helm.
Goyal’s letter comes after a Delhi Congress leader Rohit Manchanda demanded replacement of PC Chacko, the AICC in-charge of the city unit, over the poll drubbing. “It’s alright. It’s his opinion,” Dikshit told PTI. Dikshit and Chacko had serious differences over an alliance with the AAP for the Lok Sabha elections in Delhi. While Dikshit opposed an alliance with the AAP, Chacko favoured it. The tie-up ultimately did not materialise.
“Dikshit lost the Lok Sabha polls by over 3 lakh votes. This time she cannot escape responsibility for the party’s defeat. Her old age prevents her from being active in the field and leading the party. She will prove to be a disaster in the assembly elections,” Goyal told PTI. After the Congress’ defeat in Delhi, Dikshit had offered her resignation to the party president but it was not accepted, Congress leaders said.
In his letter, Goyal suggested that the Delhi Congress should fight assembly polls by projecting Kapil Sibal or Yoganand Shastri as the chief ministerial face of the party. “This exercise must be undertaken to find a new face for the Congress chief minister in Delhi if the party does not want to lose any further,” he wrote to Gandhi.
The Congress had lost all seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi to BJP with huge margins.
However, under Dikshit’s leadership the party managed to push AAP candidates on the third place in five of the seven seats, besides registering growth in its vote share. The three-time former Delhi chief minister was appointed president of the city unit after the incumbent Ajay Maken stepped down citing health issues in January this year. Despite being an octagenarian, Dikshit led the party in Lok Sabha polls and herself contested against Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari from the North East Delhi seat. She lost by over 3.66 lakh votes.