Former union minister Ajay Maken will take over as Delhi Congress chief on Sunday. Member of Parliament between 2004 and 2014, Maken is making a comeback to active Delhi politics after more than a decade.
Maken will replace Arvinder Singh, urban development minister in Sheila Dikshit’s ministry, who was given the reins of the state unit after the humiliating defeat in the 2013 assembly elections.
A three-time MLA and a minister in Sheila Dikshit’s cabinet between 1998 and 2003, Maken is a veteran of Delhi politics. In the post-Sheila days, when the party is desperately looking for a leader with a pan-Delhi presence to revive its fortunes, Maken’s appointment is likely to give hope to the party cadre.
Maken’s re-entry to Delhi politics has come at a time when the Congress is passing through its worst phase in the city. The party that ruled the city for 15 years between 1998 and 2013 does not even have a single MLA in 70-member House.
The party cadre is demoralised and its loyal supporters have already shifted their allegiance to other parties.
Maken on Saturday said he understood the challenges the party faces in Delhi and was working on a plan to revive the Congress. “We cannot rebuild the party using the traditional means of politics. When the other party (AAP) was doing ‘Delhi Dialogue’, we were still busy in ‘Jan Jagran’ (creating awareness). We must understand that it can’t work that way. We have to make effective use of the social media and it cannot be a monologue,” Maken said.
The former union minister, who was made campaign committee chief in the last assembly elections and contested and lost from Sadar Bazar, said the party would have to target the youth and convince them about the ideologies of the Congress and its work in the past several years to resurrect the party.
“The youth in Delhi is of a different generation. It has not seen the days when vehicles used to emit fumes, the days of long power cuts and endless wait for a bus to reach a destination and the contribution that Congress has made in the development of Delhi. We will have to attract the youth to the Congress,” Maken said.