Former union minister and Congress general secretary Ajay Maken is likely to be the party’s face in the coming Delhi elections with senior party leaders confirming his name has been cleared for the chairman of the campaign panel. An official announcement is likely to be made on Tuesday.
Maken will also be fighting in the elections to the 70-seat assembly from Sadar Bazaar seat, said sources. The Congress Election Committee (CEC), chaired by party president Sonia Gandhi, cleared a list of 39 candidates Monday — Maken being one of them. The list will be made official today.
“Maken will be the face of the Congress in the Delhi elections. He has also agreed to contest the election,” a senior Congress functionary said.
Maken, however, faces a tough challenge of re-grouping a demoralised party that won just eight seats in the 2013 Delhi assembly elections and lost the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
“We lost two back-to-back elections as both the BJP and the AAP made tall promises which had no basis and people fell in their trap. In our campaign, we will request people to question the two parties on how they were going to fulfill those promises before voting for them,” Maken told HT.
Congress’ vote share has gone up by 11.36% in Delhi Cantonment Board results compared to the 2013 polls in the area. “Maken’s appointment as chairman of the campaign committee will definitely boost the morale of the party workers,” Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely said.
Maken was elected to Delhi Assembly in 1993 from Rajouri garden and was re-elected in 1998 and 2003. He was sworn in as the youngest minister in Sheila Dikshit’s cabinet in 2001 and was given the charge of power, transport and tourism department.
Maken is credited with privatisation of power distribution in Delhi and converting public transport system to the compressed natural gas system, which earned Delhi the UN ‘Clean City’ award for environment. He successfully contested Lok Sabha election from New Delhi in 2004 and was re-elected in 2009.