In an attempt to bring the party back in the reckoning in the Delhi assembly elections, the Congress on Tuesday named former union minister Ajay Maken as chairman of the party’s 101-member campaign committee. Maken will contest the assembly election from the Sadar Bazar constituency.
Maken has been named ahead of former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, who refused to contest the elections but will campaign for the party.
“Har kisi ka agar uday hota hai to ast bhi hota, ye ek badi hi natural baat hai.. aaj main 50 saal ka hoon to 10 saal baad mera bhi ast hoga,” Maken said when asked why Dikshit was not a candidate if the Congress was fielding “tried and tested” leaders.
Maken later clarified he was not referring to Dikshit and had made a generic statement, adding he will have to retire from electoral politics after a few years.
Though the Congress did not name Maken its chief ministerial candidate, senior party functionaries accepted that his anointment as the chairman of the campaign committee essentially means he will be the face of the Congress in Delhi.
“It has been the practice that the leader of the legislative party is elected by the MLAs after polls,” AICC in-charge for Delhi PC Chako said.
Maken said the Congress campaign will revolve around its success during the 15-year rule between 1998 and 2013 and the party will appeal to the people to go for “tried and tested” leaders in the February 7 polls to the 70-member House.
He said he was ready to take the challenge and will go to the voters based on his performance as Delhi’s transport minister as well as his stint as the sports and youth affairs minister, state minister for home affairs and housing and urban poverty alleviation minister in the UPA government.
Maken was elected to the Delhi Assembly in 1993, 1998 and 2003 and later got elected to Lok Sabha in 2003 and 2008.
He lost to BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
While other political parties are targeting different groups in their election campaigns, especially the youth which played a major role in the last assembly election, the Congress is still going the conventional way. “We also have new innovative ideas to attract the youth. We need to promote those ideas. We already have a plan for the youth and we will make good use of technology to woo them, Maken said.