Congress not prepared to face Delhi polls

The poorly attended Congress rally in the Dakshinpuri area of South Delhi last Sunday (November 17) clearly indicates that the party is not fully prepared to face the Delhi polls on December 4. While it is true that Rahul Gandhi arrived late and delivered a very short speech at the rally, the party machinery was found wanting.

Chief minister Sheila Dikshit has admitted that the Congress had miscalculated in organising the rally on Guru Nanak’s birthday. However, what is increasingly becoming evident is that her policy so far has not been inclusive and has left many party workers complaining that they were never really a part of the Congress scheme of things. This is also true of many other places in the country but so far as Delhi is concerned, and that too in an area which has supported the party for so many years, such poor attendance is an indication of things to come.

The Congress High Command also recognizes that a lot needs to be done and things cannot be left totally at the mercy of Sheila Dikshit who herself is facing a strong anti-incumbency wave this time and on the DPCC chief Jai Prakash Aggarwal who has been playing second fiddle. In order to make the campaign more inclusive and to get the old guard involved in the campaigning, the high command has nominated former Delhi party chief Subhash Chopra to head the campaign committee. The idea is to get the old guard out and establish a connection between the seniors and the juniors.

What was evident at Dakshinpuri was that there was no one to take full charge of the rally. Dikshit is the longest serving chief minister of the city, but surprisingly she doesn’t have much grip over the workers. After the marginalisation of Sajjan Kumar who is facing charges connected with the 1984 riots, the Congress has no leader with his kind of organizational abilities in the rural areas and resettlement colonies. Dikshit and Aggarwal have not groomed anyone to take over this role in all these years and the party now has to face the consequences.

Similarly, Jagdish Tytler too is on the sidelines and his replacement in areas, which were a component of the erstwhile Delhi Sadar Parliamentary constituency, remain without a tall leader. The high command hopes that in the short time that is there till now and the polling, Subhash Chopra maybe able to galvanise the workers in most of the city. This I feel is a Herculean task and very difficult to accomplish at the eleventh hour. Though Chopra will certainly make a difference, he may not be able to offset the anti-incumbency factor against the state and the central governments, which is visible in the city two weeks prior to the D-Day.

The Congress as a whole needs to take things very seriously at this stage. Otherwise, its chances will diminish further and it could end up as the number three party. There is time and it should not be wasted any further.

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