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Stemming AAP tide challenge for Congress

india Updated: Feb 16, 2014 13:54 IST
Atul Mathur
Atul Mathur
Hindustan Times
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The Aam Aadmi Party upstaged the Congress in the last assembly elections. Now, with Delhi staring at a repoll and that too along with the Lok Sabha elections in April-May this year, the grand-old-party faces the herculean task of countering the rising popularity of its fledgling rival.

Ruling Delhi for 15 years, the Congress miserably failed to gauge the undercurrent building against it and could manage only eight out of 70 seats. Its vote share fell down by 15 percentage points — from around 40% in 2008 assembly elections to 25% this time – and the seat tally came down from 41 to eight.

But who will be the face of the party in assembly elections now? Would the party high command consider bringing back Sheila Dikshit to lead the party in elections? Sources, however, said appointing Arvinder Singh, who was transport minister in Sheila Dikshit government, as chief of the Delhi Congress, is an indication that party may rather have somebody young to lead the party than having an inspiring old leader.

Another challenge for the party will be to select candidates for the 70 assembly seats and seven Lok Sabha seats. “Despite strong objection from a section of party leaders, tickets were given to about 15 such MLAs in December elections whose popularity graph had gone down considerably. Only two of them won,” said a senior party leader.

However, several Delhi veterans of the party may get a ticket to try their luck for the Lok Sabha seats. “To counter the anti-incumbency against its sitting MPs in Delhi, the party has decided to organise US-style primaries to pick the ‘right’ candidates for two Lok Sabha seats in Delhi. On the remaining seats too, the party will have to choose between experienced sitting MPs and fresh young faces,” said a senior party leader.The Aam Aadmi Party upstaged the Congress in the last assembly elections. Now, with Delhi staring at a repoll and that too along with the Lok Sabha elections in April-May this year, the grand-old-party faces the herculean task of countering the rising popularity of its fledgling rival.

Ruling Delhi for 15 years, the Congress miserably failed to gauge the undercurrent building against it and could manage only eight out of 70 seats. Its vote share fell down by 15 percentage points — from around 40% in 2008 assembly elections to 25% this time – and the seat tally came down from 41 to eight.

But who will be the face of the party in assembly elections now? Would the party high command consider bringing back Sheila Dikshit to lead the party in elections? Sources, however, said appointing Arvinder Singh, who was transport minister in Sheila Dikshit government, as chief of the Delhi Congress, is an indication that party may rather have somebody young to lead the party than having an inspiring old leader.

Another challenge for the party will be to select candidates for the 70 assembly seats and seven Lok Sabha seats. “Despite strong objection from a section of party leaders, tickets were given to about 15 such MLAs in December elections whose popularity graph had gone down considerably. Only two of them won,” said a senior party leader.

However, several Delhi veterans of the party may get a ticket to try their luck for the Lok Sabha seats. “To counter the anti-incumbency against its sitting MPs in Delhi, the party has decided to organise US-style primaries to pick the ‘right’ candidates for two Lok Sabha seats in Delhi. On the remaining seats too, the party will have to choose between experienced sitting MPs and fresh young faces,” said a senior party leader.