Opening a front against Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken, former minister and senior leader Mangat Ram Singhal on Wednesday alleged that tickets were ‘sold’ this time for the municipal elections.
Singhal, who was minister in the Sheila Dikshit government, said the state leadership had defied directions of party vice president Rahul Gandhi and awarded tickets to relatives of sitting councillors and former MLAs and MPs.
“Rahul Gandhi has clearly said no relative of sitting councillors, former MLAs and MPs will be given tickets. Only eligible candidates will be made party nominees. State unit chief (Ajay Maken) set his own rules and conducted a survey to choose contestants but he did not obey Rahul Gandhi’s direction. Tickets were allocated only on the recommendations of people working closely with Maken. They sold municipal elections tickets,” Singhal said at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
While Maken refused to comment on the allegations, Singhal said he had sought time from party president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to apprise them about the situation. “This is serious issue. We condemn this. This state president is hell bent on making ‘Congress mukt dilli’,” Singhal added.
The press conference was called by a group of ‘disgruntled’ party leaders, including Singhal, Onika Malhotra, head, women cell of the party, Sukhbir Sharma, ex vice president, Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC), and former party spokesperson Jatinder Kochar, to air their grievances at the residence of Delhi Rajya Sabha MP Parvez Hashmi.
Hashmi was not present at the press conference. But earlier, Hashmi, in an interview to a news channel, had blamed Maken for alleged irregularities in ticket distribution.
Kochar said tickets were ‘managed’ in Congress and state unit chief Maken was responsible for it.
“Maken has set up a survey committee but this survey is nothing but a sham. Five relatives of Mahabal Mishra, former west Delhi MP, have been given tickets. One of them is not even a resident of the city. People are coming to us and saying money was demanded for tickets,” he said.
On Monday, senior state Congress leaders, including former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, had said the DPCC had kept them away from the municipal elections candidate selection procedure.
Alleging the ‘utter neglect’ of efficient party workers, former party MLA Amrish Singh Gautam had left his party and joined Bharatiya Janata Party on April 3 while Walia had threatened to quit.
“I don’t know anything about ticket distribution as I was not involved. In fact, I was not consulted at any point of time. It is regrettable that senior party leaders are leaving or planning to quit,” Dikshit had said after reports of Gautam quitting and Walia planning to do the same were out.