With the loss of Town Hall to arch rival BJP, the city Congress seems to gone into self-destruct mode. As accusations fly thick and fast, DPCC President Ram Babu Sharma is facing the brunt of the attack. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit too is in the firing line for what her rivals are calling ‘failing on all fronts’.
A group of Congressmen who were denied party tickets assembled near Pragati Maidan on Sunday and sent representatations to all concerned, demanding Sharma’s removal. They blamed Sharma squarely for the defeat in the civic polls. "Tickets were not given to the winning candidates and outsiders were imposed on the MLAs," said Rajesh Jain, MLA and a Dikshit loyalist. Another CM loyalist, Charan Singh Kandera, said there should be an overhaul of the party for next year's Assembly elections.
Another MLA, Ramakant Goswami, said they were preparing a letter for the Congress President, putting the blame on the organisation and absolving Dikshit. The group of over a dozen MLAs camped at the Chief Minister’s residence to draw up their strategy of absolving Dikshit and putting the ball in the DPCC's court.
The anti-Dikshit camp, which mainly comprises office-bearers of the party, says that Dikshit was the political "face" of the city. “Who knows Sharma? It is Dikshit who is the face of the government and the party in the Capital," said an MLA opposed to Dikshit. He did not want to be named in the surcharged political atmosphere. A minister in the government said it was a failure of both Sharma and Dikshit.
“As the head of the government, she should definitely own responsibility,” he said on condition of anonymity.
At present, the anti Dikshit camp comprises of Sharma, two MPs and two ministers of her own Cabinet. "The fence-sitters would soon join us as the issues on which people voted like water and power has the state government as the princial stakeholder," said a two-time MLA.
Analyst and JNU Professor Pushpesh Pant said, “It seems the honeymoon of the Delhi voters with Dikshit is over.” He said the Congress leadership has already brought in Tejinder Khanna as the new Lieutenant Governor to mask the deficiencies of Dikshit's administration.
"The message is clear. Khanna is an able administraor and LG has considerable power to exercise in Delhi," said Pant. He said the party would have to make fundamental changes in the run-up to the 2008 Assembly elections to reverse its declining fortunes.