New Delhi: In the backdrop of Congress's severe drubbing in the Odisha and Maharashtra civic polls, its Delhi unit is leaving no stone unturned to ensure victory in the municipal elections in the capital, hoping "non-performance" of the AAP government will swing the tide in its favour.
Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken said the party was not under any pressure following the outcome of the civic polls elsewhere and that people will not support the AAP, realising that they have got an "absentee chief minister" in Arvind Kejriwal who does not have any interest in governing the city.
The former Union minister said from involving grassroot workers in selecting candidates for 272 wards to making them finalise area-specific strategies, he has initiated a raft of measures to bring back enthusiasm among the partymen and has been successful to a large extent.
Maken, appointed DPCC chief in March 2015 in the aftermath of Congress's humiliating defeat in the assembly polls, said the party was preparing a plan to make all three municipal bodies financially self reliant, through tax reforms, stopping "huge pilferage" in toll tax collection and bringing transparency.
"AAP government has miserably failed in Delhi. Their intention in Delhi was not to govern. Their intention was to capitalise Delhi's victory and spread their political wings across the country. As a result Arvind Kejriwal's heart and mind are not in Delhi. Delhi has an absentee chief minister and it is a matter of shame," Maken told PTI in an interview.
Asked whether Congress's defeat in Maharashtra and Odisha resulted in more pressure on the Delhi Congress as a defeat in the polls here will add to the humiliation, Maken said, "We are not under any pressure."
"The pressure will be on the AAP because they will have to showcase the Delhi model and tell people elsewhere that look people are accepting us," he said.
Calling the BJP, which has been ruling the civic bodies for the last 10 years, as the main rival for the Congress, he said the party will face people's wrath because of "large-scale graft" in MCDs and their "inefficiencies".
Exuding confidence of winning the polls for all the three MCDs, Maken said if his party comes to power, probe will be ordered into allegations of large-scale corruption during BJP's rule.
"Our main focus will be to rectify the system and make MCDs self reliant," he said, alleging there has been pilferage of Rs 1,500 crore in toll tax collection annually under the current dispensation.
The Delhi Congress chief also cautioned BJP against using its communal card and polarise the voters.
"People of Delhi understand them very well. I do not think people of Delhi will fall to their prey even if they try. It will boomerang on them."
"They (BJP) can do it because what we have seen in Uttar Pradesh is that when the development card fail, they always resort the final tactic of polarising the voters," he said.
Slamming the AAP, Maken said since the party is not at all interested in governing Delhi, it has been busy fighting against the Modi government, giving an impression that it is the natural opponent of the BJP.
"The AAP wants to take Congress' space across the country. They are furthering their ambition at the cost of development of Delhi which people of Delhi will not tolerate."
"The AAP plays the victim card always. Arvind Kejriwal is busy furthering his own ambition. They are functioning like an event management company. For them development is nothing but event management," said Maken.
Giving details of how he is trying to involve grass-root party workers, the DPCC chief said around two lakh of them will play a role in selection of candidates for the civic polls due in April.
"We have asked ticket aspirants to give names of five party workers from the booth-level and now we have collected two lakh workers. A control room has been set up with 30 youngsters who are tasked to get the feedback," he said.
In the polls, Maken felt pressure will be more on the AAP to repeat their assembly election performance.
"The pressure will be on the AAP because they will have to showcase the Delhi model and tell people elsewhere that look people are accepting us. So the pressure will be on the AAP."
"Our main rival will be the BJP. The AAP has already lost its plot in Delhi," he said.
Updated Date: Feb 26, 2017 15:28 PM