A day after Congress suffered a crushing defeat in the Delhi Assembly elections in which the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) pulled off a stellar performance, knives are out in the grand old party with leaders blaming each other for the poor show in what was once their citadel.
AICC Delhi in-charge PC Chacko sought to put the blame of the party's decline on late Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, saying the party started losing ground when she was at the helm in 2013.
"The party's downfall started since 2013 when Sheila Dikshit was chief minister and the new outfit AAP took away the Congress votebank," he said.
Congress leader Sharmishtha Mukherjee took on senior party leader P Chidambaram, who had welcomed the AAP win as "defeat of bluff and bluster" and asked the former minister if the state Congress units should shut shop in case the party had decided that others will take on the BJP across states.
"With due respect sir, just want to know- has Congress outsourced the task of defeating BJP to state parties? If not, then why r we gloating over AAP victory rather than being concerned abt our drubbing? And if 'yes', then we (PCCs) might as well close shop!“ asked Mukherjee.
Sharmishtha is daughter of former President Pranab Mukherjee, who has been a Congress leader all his life.
On Tuesday, Congress drew a blank for the second time in Delhi elections and its vote share plummeted to 4.26 per cent from 9.7 per cent in 2015.
Congress leader Milind Deora slammed Chacko for his remarks saying, "Sheila Dikshit ji was a remarkable politician and administrator. During her tenure as chief minister, Delhi was transformed and Congress was stronger than ever. Unfortunate to see her being blamed after her death. She dedicated her life to Congress and the people of Delhi."
Dikshit's former aide Pawan Khera said, "Just a data point. In 2013, when we lost, Congress vote share in Delhi was 24.55 pc. Sheila ji was not involved in 2015, when the vote share slipped to 9.7 pc. In 2019, when she was back in charge, the vote share came up to 22.46 pc."
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor posted an Urdu couplet on Twitter saying, one is taking pride in someone else's victory, even in the party's defeat.
"The Delhi results are disappointing for Congress but there are consolations: the BJP's divisive politics has been repudiated with their rout; AAP’s development message is what has prevailed over identity politics; and 8 months after sweeping the LS polls the winners have been rebuked," Tharoor said in another tweet.
Chidambaram, the former finance minister, had welcomed the AAP victory in Delhi polls, saying, "AAP won, bluff and bluster lost. The people of Delhi, who are from all parts of India, have defeated the polarising, divisive and dangerous agenda of the BJP. I salute the people of Delhi who have set an example to other states that will hold their elections in 2021 and 2022."
Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said his party needed to introspect on a national level, following their failure to secure a single seat in the Delhi polls.
"In a democracy, I always respect the mandate of the people. Delhi elections results are a cause of concern that needs introspection at the national level. Congress should make a plan for the future," said Congress leader at a press conference.
(With inputs from agencies)