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Lovely’s return a boost for Congress ahead of likely by-elections

His ‘homecoming’ is expected to give a boost to the Congress ahead of a likely mini-election to 20 seats vacated due to the disqualification of ruling AAP lawmakers.

delhi Updated: Feb 17, 2018 23:14 IST
Gulam Jeelani
Gulam Jeelani
Hindustan Times
lovely,arvinder lovely,congress
Arvinder Singh Lovely at a press conference in New Delhi on Saturday.(Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)

In April 2017, five days ahead of the municipal elections, former Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh ‘Lovely’ joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the presence of party president Amit Shah.

Ten months on, ‘Lovely’ returned to his parent party on Saturday, saying he felt like ‘misfit’ in the BJP.

Lovely’s switch was then projected as a major setback for the Congress because he—a four-time MLA and a minister—was considered an influential face among the Punjabis in Delhi.

Also, the Congress had faced a drubbing at the hands of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the 2015 Delhi assembly elections. The party did not win a single seat.

His ‘homecoming’ is expected to give a boost to the Congress ahead of a likely mini-election to 20 seats vacated due to the disqualification of ruling AAP lawmakers.

Congress leaders privy to the development said the party’s Delhi chief Ajay Maken was informed about the “suffocation” that Lovely was feeling in the BJP. Lovely, they said, was unhappy as he was not given the promised charge of two states in 10 months ever since he joined the BJP.

“After coming to know about his uneasiness, Maken met him two weeks ago and offered to take him back,” said a senior Congress leader who did not want to be named.

The initiative, leaders said, was part of Congress’ reach-out plans to bring back known faces in its fold. Former Youth Congress chief, Amit Malik, who joined the BJP with Lovely, may also come back, the senior leader said.

Former chief minister Sheila Dikshit expressed happiness over Lovely’s return. At the time of his switch, Dikshit had blamed Maken. “He has realised that in the end, our own home is the best, Dikshit told news agency ANI.

Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari termed Lovely’s decision as a personal move.

Leader of Opposition Vijendra Gupta said Lovely’s return won’t affect the BJP’s prospects in Delhi. “Congress lost all the seven Lok Sabha Seats in Delhi when Arvinder Singh Lovely was Delhi Pradesh Congress president. BJP has embarked on an ideological basis in the nation and the world,” he said.

Among other Congress leaders who joined BJP was Pratyush Kanth, who switched sides in October 2017. Now the party’s social media head, Kanth said people like ‘Lovely’ were hungry for power.

“People who have been in Congress for generations would not survive in BJP, a party driven by ideology, for long. Lovely is a classic example,” Kanth said.

First Published: Feb 17, 2018 23:11 IST