As the Congress old guard comes around, Maken admits ‘mistakes’
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.
Former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit and Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken at a press conference on Wednesday.