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Tactical exit

By not taking an immediate decision on the next DPCC chief the Congress High Command is limiting the scope for a revival of the party’s fortunes

Editorial | New Delhi |

The pundits whose political acumen is heavily restricted to what their pocket-calculators “tot up” might be thrilled at enhanced prospects in Delhi for a Congress-Aam Aadmi Party tie-up ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha poll after 24 Akbar Road “accepted” Ajay Maken’s resignation as the head of the DPCC since he and Arvind Kejriwal were in perpetual conflict. Yet opposition unity is rooted in deeper realities, and an immediate response from the Kejriwal camp was that the Congress’ clout in the Capital has so dissipated that it has minimal claim to any of the seven seats from here. It would have to reach out with a begging bowl for even token proof of forging a common front. That confirms that Ajay Maken had thrived only because he had projected himself as a “palace favourite”. Further proof of his failure to rebuild the Congress come from reports that among the names in circulation for the next DPCC boss is that of the veteran Sheila Dikshit, whose prospects of another successful re-election bid were scuttled by another upstart, Suresh Kalmadi, of the 2010 Commonwealth Games infamy.

The seasoned Mrs Dikshit has been pragmatic enough to have a seemingly-cordial personal relationship with the maverick Kerjriwal. It would be inappropriate to comment on the personal medical reasons Maken has cited for his decision to quit, but in addition to his back problems it appears he is also suffering from diminished political backing.

By not taking an immediate decision on the next DPCC chief the Congress High Command is limiting the scope for a revival of the party’s fortunes: having no “say” in the Assembly and the municipal corporation that Mrs Dikshit had trifurcated, it has no tempting carrots to dangle. Maken, and before him Lovely, have reduced the Delhi Congress to insignificance.

In the cold terms of numbers the seven Lok Sabha seats from Delhi would be a mere drop in the ocean. Yet there is tremendous prestige attached to them and a 0-7 rout would suggest the party is tottering before the supposedly most politically-sensitive electorate in the country. Some of the “biggest” names in politics have contested those seats. Can Rahul/Sonia Gandhi and the Congress suffer another setback? The treasure-chest of the DPCC is embarrassingly bare, Rahul would have too look elsewhere to come up with a credible candidate or two. Even more importantly, set about breathing fresh energy into a decrepit state outfit.

Maybe the elderly Mrs Dikshit could lead another revival, whether her son is capable of providing supporting fire is a tricky issue. The NSUI has played a good hand in DUSU affairs, maybe some hope could emerge from there. Alas, there is a growing gut feeling that while the exit of Maken may open a window to the AAP, it will let in a breeze with “surrender” written all over it.