As the Congress old guard comes around, Maken ad­mits ‘mis­takes’

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - HTMETRO - Parvez Sul­tan parvez.sul­tan@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEWDELHI: For the first time af­ter the Congress in Delhi suf­fered a hu­mil­i­at­ing de­feat at the hands of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in 2015 assem­bly elec­tions and lost mu­nic­i­pal polls last year, the party on Wed­nes­day put up a united front with the for­mer chief min­is­ter Sheila Dik­shit and state unit pres­i­dent Ajay Maken hold­ing a joint press con­fer­ence. The meet was called to list out “fail­ures” of the Aam Aadmi gov­ern­ment, which com­pleted three years on Fe­bru­ary 14.

Maken said he should have brought Dik­shit on board ear­lier, ad­mit­ting that he had “com­mit­ted few mis­takes but he is rec­ti­fy­ing them”.

As Dik­shit and Maken ad­dressed the press con­fer­ence, cabi­net min­is­ters in the Sheila Dik­shit gov­ern­ment, and party’s ex-mps from Delhi were present.

“I ad­mit that I have made few mis­takes in the past. When I re­alised this, I ap­proached Dik­shit. My party col­leagues were also of the opin­ion that we should come to­gether and I should rec­tify my mis­takes. As Delhi Congress pres­i­dent, I should have done this be­fore mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions,” Maken said.

On Dik­shit’s role in the fu­ture elec­tions, Maken said that it is up to the Cen­tral lead­er­ship. “How can I de­cide? It is be­yond my purview. She was the chief min­is­ter,” he said. When me­di­a­per­sons put the same ques­tion to Dik­shit and asked whether she would be cam­paign­ing for the party, she skirted the ques­tion but said, “Congress al­ways has one face.”

How­ever, party in­sid­ers said that the pos­si­bil­ity of by­polls on 20 assem­bly seats, which have fallen va­cant af­ter the dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAS on of­fice of profit charges, had brought es­tranged Delhi Congress lead­ers on the same plat­form.

Maken had parted ways with Dik­shit around 2004 gen­eral elec­tions.

Be­sides Dik­shit, sev­eral se­nior Delhi lead­ers, in­clud­ing for­mer min­is­ters-- Dr AK Walia, Ha­roon Yusuf, Man­gat Ram Sing­hal, Ki­ran Walia, Yo­ganand Shas­tri and Ra­makant Goswami, se­nior lead­ers such as Sub­hash Cho­pra and for­mer MPS Sa­j­jan Ku­mar and Ramesh Ku­mar were also present in the press con­fer­ence.

Re­call­ing the ‘episode’, party old timers said Maken had felt that by send­ing him to con­test 2004 Lok Sabha elec­tion, Dik­shit wanted to dis­lodge him from the state pol­i­tics. “Af­ter Maken’s en­try to Par­lia­ment, the gap be­tween the two lead­ers widened fur­ther. Later, Dik­shit was not in­volved in 2015 assem­bly elec­tions, which we lost badly,” said a se­nior party leader.

Since Congress’ drub­bing at the hands of AAP, Dik­shit has stayed away from Delhi pol­i­tics but had ques­tioned Maken’s style of func­tion­ing. She blamed him when Arvin­der Singh Lovely left the party to join the BJP be­fore the 2017 mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions.

“I am very dis­ap­pointed es­pe­cially with the way Arvin­der Singh Lovely has left the party mid-way. Most party peo­ple com­plained that Maken does not reach out to ev­ery­one. He is not (eas­ily) avail­able. In demo­cratic pol­i­tics, the most im­por­tant thing is to reach out to ev­ery­one and this is not hap­pen­ing at the mo­ment,” she had said. Odd-even can­not go on round the year. We stud­ied a lot of cases. Other coun­tries run odd-even only for 2-3 days. To com­bat pol­lu­tion, we have to find long-term so­lu­tions. An or­der to this ef­fect has been is­sued. It will be im­ple­mented soon. We have re­cently drafted a pol­icy to give up to 16 lakh to sportsper­sons. All ob­sta­cles have been cleared and 786 new sites have been iden­ti­fied for Mo­halla Clin­ics. I hope that the re­main­ing clin­ics will be con­structed within six to nine months. Only love can con­quer hate. No­body should stay silent against di­vi­sive pol­i­tics. Landscaping of 500 km roads of Public Works Depart­ment (PWD) roads will be done. A va­ri­ety of plants and shrubs and stones will be used to beau­tify the roads. In our 49-day gov­ern­ment, we had com­pletely stopped cor­rup­tion. Then, the Anti Cor­rup­tion Branch (ACB) was with us and even in the next gov­ern­ment, we had ACB for three months and we had cracked down upon cor­rupt of­fi­cial but it was snatched later. I have no hes­i­ta­tion in say­ing this that af­ter those three months, cor­rup­tion in the re­tail has some­what in­creased. How­ever, no cor­rup­tion is there at the top level. We will give a ded­i­cated fund for this pur­pose in the com­ing bud­get. All de­vel­op­ment works in such colonies will be fin­ished by the end of this year.

VIPIN KU­MAR/HT PHOTO

For­mer Delhi CM Sheila Dik­shit and Delhi Congress pres­i­dent Ajay Maken at a press con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day.

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