Banking on Kiran Bedi as chief ministerial candidate, the Bhartatiya Janata Party (BJP) is hoping to form the Government in Delhi, while the Aam Aadmi party (AAP), that faced severe criticism when its leader Kejriwal quit as Chief Minister, is making an attempt to retrieve its lost ground. The Congress may not be in a position to form a Government, but it’ll better its tally in the previous Assembly election.
The Congress party’s leadership culture and refusal to change is taking its toll on the party’s electoral fortunes. Neither the recent trends nor opinion polls recommend Congress party’s sensible performance when it just won eight out of the 70 Delhi Assembly seats in the last Assembly election. In this scenario, the modifications in the leadership for the forthcoming Assembly election plays no major role.
Ajay Maken: Face of Congress’s campaign
Faced with the challenge of restoration lost ground, Congress party has appointed former Union Minister Ajay Maken as chairman of the party’s 101-member campaign committee for Delhi Assembly polls, marking dawn of a brand new leadership in the Capital after the legacy of three-time Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. The All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary is the face of Congress’s campaign which will highlight the achievements of its 15-year rule. It will reasonably appeal to the people to go for tried and tested leaders.
The 50-year-old Maken, who was elected to Delhi Assembly for three consecutive terms since 1993 and lost the Lok Sabha polls last year, contests from Sadar Bazar constituency.
Maken was able to take the gauntlet and can attend the voters based on his performance as Delhi’s Transport Minister. Moreover he was Union Sports and Youth Affairs Minister, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs and Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government. Maken, who was selected as Transport and Power Minister in 2001 in the Sheila Dikshit cabinet, is credited with the privatization of electricity distribution as well as strengthening of the transport infrastructure in Delhi.
He had also performed as the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Delhi, at the age of only 39. He successfully contested the 2004 Lok Sabha polls defeating BJP’s Jagmohan in the New Delhi constituency. He retained his seat in 2009 Lok Sabha polls but lost to BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi in the last election.
Kiran Walia: Seasoned political campaigner
The Congress party pitted former Delhi Minister Kiran Walia against AAP leader and former CM Arvind Kejriwal in the prestigious New Delhi constituency for the forthcoming Assembly polls.
In fact, the New Delhi constituency was commanded by Sheila Dikshit, former CM of Delhi, for three terms before she suffered a surprise defeat against Kejriwal in 2013 elections. Walia held the ministerial position in her Government but faced defeat in the last Assembly election. She lost to AAP’s Somnath Bharti in the Malviya Nagar constituency. She had won the seat consequently in 1999, 2003 and 2008.
Kiran Walia is a seasoned political campaigner. In fact, she was one amongst the brains behind the Congress’s unconditional support to Kejriwal’s minority Government in 2013. Nevertheless, she had shown outstanding foresight concerning the long run of such an opportunistic alliance.
Walia is suave, scholarly and among the foremost torch-bearers of women’s related problems in the city. Yet, as women’s votes may split just in case of another likely outstanding woman candidate from the BJP, Walia will have a tricky task ahead of her.
Ajay Maken and Kiran Walia factor
So, question arises will Ajay Maken and Kiran Walia infuse a new life in the Congress party in the upcoming Delhi Assembly polls? Certainly, to some extent these Congress leaders who are operating closely on the Delhi election strategy. The main strategy of those leaders is the highlight of the failure of both the political parties, the BJP and the AAP. The Congress party can fight the election on the plank of development and stability issue.
Under the leadership of Maken, the Congress party has also decided to focus on ethnic groups in Delhi, especially the numerically strong purvanchalis (States of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh). The upcoming Assembly election will be a test for the survival for a party like Congress.