Maken bets big on Cong's gains in civic by-elections

Close to completing his first year in top party post, Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken claims that over the months his party has grown into the main opposition party  - a fact, he claims, is acknowledged even by BJP leaders.

The 52-year-old former Union minister and Delhi Assembly speaker is betting big on getting favourable results in the civic by-elections – to be held in 13 wards before May on a court’s order.

“Our growing strength in Delhi will be reflected in the by-elections to the 13 wards,” Maken told Deccan Herald on Sunday.

“The AAP has lost its shine and sheen. It’s for the first time that one-third of the Delhi Cabinet ministers have to be removed over corruption charges,” said Maken.

AAP volunteers have become government workers and are pocketing hefty salaries and the MLAs are giving themselves salary hikes and their annual package will touch Rs 50 lakh by the end of their five-year term.

“People are realising that the Congress is the best option for governance in the city which became world class under its 15-year rule,” claimed the Delhi Congress chief.

Slamming the AAP government for lack of governance experience – which has precipitated into the two civic workers’ strikes in six months, Maken said: “The AAP government’s mindset is not correct. They still work with the Opposition-NGO mindset.”
Kejriwal does not want to work like a Chief Minister of a Union Territory and complains of hostility and the unfavourable Centre-Delhi government set up.

“Four former chief ministers of the BJP and Congress managed to function under the Centre-Delhi power distribution arrangement but Kejriwal alone is having problems,” said Maken.

Busy months
The Delhi Congress has had busy past 11 months under Maken due to filling public interest litigations in the Supreme Court or the Delhi High Court, filing affidavit with power regulator on behalf of the Congress on fixation of power rates to and highlighting the “failures” of the AAP, among several protests.

Maken shares credit with his young team for signals of a start of party’s revival.
The much needed bounce-back in city politics, however, is still a distant dream after defeats in the past four elections – including civic polls in 2012, Assembly polls in 2013 and 2015 and Lok Sabha elections in 2014.  
There have been no opportunities to showcase the growing unpopularity of the AAP and the Congress’ revival, he said.

“The University of Delhi’s Students’ Union polls was an embarrassment for the AAP as even Kejriwal’s face could win votes,” said the city Congress chief.

The Congress could also not win any of the four posts in the DUSU but Maken took comfort from the fact that the party’s students’ wing cornered 28 per cent of the vote share – an improvement of the 9 per cent vote share the Congress could manage in the Assembly polls.  

“The AAP students’ wing finished a poor fourth in terms of vote share,” said Maken, calling the DUSU poll vote share as a turn- around point for the Congress.

The Congress leader’ is mindful of the media hype that the AAP government is planning to create to mark its first year in office.

“Once again the tax payers’ money is going to be spent on wasteful ads,” said Maken, adding that over Rs 525 crore have been set aside for publicity.    

The Congress is also preparing a one-year failure report card of the AAP government to counter Kejriwal’s publicity campaign to mark his anniversary in office on February 14.
DH News Service

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