Cracks appeared in the Delhi Congress on the last date of filing nomination for the April 23 municipal elections on Monday with senior leaders turning against the party over the selection of candidates.
Former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit said she was not consulted while former health minister Ashok Kumar Walia threatened to quit the party. Alleging ‘utter neglect’ of efficient party workers, ex-MLA Amrish Singh Gautam joined Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday.
Every time new committee is formed,they interview us like class 8 students. What is my use if they are unable to understand me-AK Walia,Cong pic.twitter.com/p1idJaXeU3— ANI (@ANI_news) April 3, 2017
Gautam, a three-time MLA from Kondli and Patparganj assembly seats, was also the deputy speaker of the Delhi Assembly during the Congress regime.
He said he was joining the BJP without any conditions as he was impressed with the policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“I had given my life to public service as a Congress worker but for last few years I have felt that the Congress is deviating from its agenda of service to all while the BJP has shown a new resolve to encourage nationalism and for empowerment of poor. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment -- Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas -- policies have inspired me,” he said at a press conference on Monday at the state BJP’s headquarters on Pandit Pant Marg.
He found support in former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit who termed the ‘incidents’ as ‘regrettable’. Haroon Yusuf, a former minister in her regime, said he was also ‘hurt’ and he has similar feelings, which Walia had conveyed to the party high command.
Dikshit told HT that senior state leaders were ignored by the people at the helm when they chose candidates for the election.
“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,” she said.
Expressing his displeasure over denying tickets to those having strong support on the ground, veteran Congress leader Walia said he had threatened to resign after he failed to budge central leadership involved in the selection procedure.
He said that he has not yet formally resigned from the party but has sent an SMS to the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ajay Maken and AICC appointed state affairs in-charge PC Chacko expressing his dissatisfaction.
“They have set up the screening committee just for show. Actually the candidates are being selected according to whims and fancies. I have put in so much effort and now after the final list was out last night, I feel I have wasted my time and energy,” Walia said.
Walia said that he was in touch with the committee members and observers appointed by the Delhi Congress to pick nominees for three weeks but no one paid heed to his recommendations.
“My point is that everyone should have been taken on board while selecting candidates. I have explained this to senior leaders like PC Chacko, Ajay Maken and Anand Sharma on several occasions,” Walia added.
Yusuf said, “We have been associated with the party for long and we have contributed a lot for the party. It is true that the local Congress leadership was ignored including me. But I will never go against the party.”
Maken tried to play down the resentment in the party. He told HT that tickets were distributed after proper screening and feedback from grass root level workers.
“It is not correct to say that senior leaders were not consulted. They have come to the screening committee and had given their opinion in writing. They talked to Anand Sharma and PC Chacko as well,” he said.