Dikshit

Under former chief minister Sheila Dikshit, Delhi Congress may hope it will be able to dethrone the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the next election, but the common ideology of the two parties may divide the votaries of freebies, which would prove a boon for the local unit of the BJP that has struggled to form a government after five consecutive Assembly elections. The Congress could not even open its account in the last two elections after losing power in 2013.

With a fresh set of working presidents and a new chief to look after the party’s Delhi affairs, the all-enthused Congress in the national capital is looking to give a strong fight to the AAP as well as the BJP, of course, but that applies only to the upcoming Lok Sabha election.

The three new working presidents — Devender Yadav, Haroon Yusuf and Rajesh Lilothia — asserted that the party was going to strengthen itself and would be able to take on both the BJP and the AAP in Delhi.

After taking over as the new Delhi chief for the Congress, a measured Dikshit said, “I have no message for the AAP or the BJP. I just want to say that now Congress will be revived.”

Yadav, a former MLA from Samaypur Badli and current national secretary in the party taking care of its Rajasthan unit, said that the new team combines experience and youth power. “We are very well prepared. Delhi congress now combines experience and youth power. We will work as a team. Under the leadership of Sheila Dikshit, I hope we will do remarkable things in coming days,” he said.

Yusuf who served as a minister in Sheila Dikshit’s government, said the party organisation will be further strengthened.

Lilothia, the national secretary and co-incharge of Bihar Congress, pointed that all the three working presidents have the experience of working with Dikshit in different capacities.

“We have coordination and understanding. I hope unitedly we will strengthen party organisation and win the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and Delhi Assembly elections in 2020,” he told PTI.

Ajay Maken who resigned as Delhi Congress president last week citing ill health, claimed on various occasions that the party’s vote percentage was up but they were not getting translated into seats.

Why Dikshit spells ‘Advantage BJP’

It may be recalled that Kejriwal had made the electoral battle in 2013-15 personal, plastering the backs of auto-rickshaws with the message that he was a better alternative than a “corrupt” Dikshit.

Kejriwal, Dikshit

The AAP had expected the BJP to field Vijay Goel as its chief ministerial candidate, and so its posters defamed Goel, too. However, it was Dikshit’s reign that came to an end in December 2013. About two years later, even as the BJP fielded Kejriwal’s fellow activist and former IPS officer Kiran Bedi in the clash of personalities, the party ruling at the Centre was reduced to three seats while the Congress was wiped out.

A break-up of the votes the AAP got in 2015 suggested that, while a cross-section of society had voted for Kejriwal’s party, its core supporters were largely dwellers of slums and unauthorised colonies, formerly considered the vote banks of the Congress. Political observers noted that the offer of free water supply and waiver of electricity bills saw the AAP through. It is this constituency that the Delhi Congress must win back.

On the other hand, whereas the BJP has been unable to form a government in Delhi since its loss to the Congress in 1998, attributed to the soaring price of onion, its vote share has remained a steady 30%-33% through the five Assembly elections ever since. If a section of voters of the AAP get disillusioned by the time of the next election, not all in that section might go to the Congress. The part that will go to the BJP will add to its steady base. That would spell ‘Advantage BJP’.