NEW DELHI: With just four months left for the Delhi Assembly polls, the incumbent AAP and opposition BJP are gearing up to give a tough fight to each other, while the Congress is still looking for a chief for its Delhi unit to lead the elections.
After ruling the city for 15 years, the Congress was reduced to zero seats in the 2015 Delhi Assembly polls while the AAP bagged 67 seats and the BJP got three out of 70 seats. This time also the Congress seems to be nowhere, so much so that the two parties are not even considering the grand old party in the race.
When contacted, a Congress leader said there are no signs of a new chief anytime soon due to internal issues. "The party is facing friction at different levels. The leaders from Delhi are demanding that the chief should be from Delhi and they are not ready to accept an outsider," the leader said demanding anonymity.
On being asked about the Assembly poll strategy, the leader said first there has to be a chief. "How can we go ahead and plan elections without a chief ?" he added.
The Congress leaders were divided into factions with a few launching a signature campaign against the appointment of an outsider, while some others launched a signature campaign for the removal of Congress in-charge of Delhi unit PC Chacko.
The AAP and the BJP are running their campaigns on different levels and in different parts of the city. The two are using social media, holding public meetings and running campaigns to target each other.
When asked, the AAP said it is in the race with the BJP. "I can't see the Congress anywhere. Can you see it? They are not in the picture. It is a race between AAP and BJP, and AAP is coming back to power," an AAP leader said.
On the other hand, while the BJP echoed the AAP on the Congress position, it says the party will wrest power from the AAP. "Congress has no chance of coming back to power in Delhi. AAP too will lose the elections as Delhi is with (Narendra) Modi and the BJP is coming to power here," a BJP leader said.
The AAP had organised a month-long public meeting programme between September 1 and October 3, where its Delhi unit chief Gopal Rai held public meetings.
"AAP has appointed district level in-charge, every Vidhan Sabha will have an observer and every polling station will have one in-charge. The party will also have booth level volunteers. AAP will also appoint total 1,40,000 Vijay Pramukh through the booth volunteers of every Vidhan Sabha. Every booth volunteer will get the target of making 10 Vijay pramukhs. By November, AAP will complete the appointment all these Vijay Pramukhs," the party said.
The BJP too is running campaigns against the AAP under the leadership of its Delhi unit chief Manoj Tiwari. It has also conducted a major drive for adding new members. The Congress lost its Delhi unit chief after the death of Sheila Dikshit, who was the party's face since 1998 when the party came to power in Delhi and was three-time Chief Minister of Delhi.
Requesting anonymity, a party leader said the Congress was yet to find a face with as much public appeal as Dikshit had. "There cannot be a replacement for Dikshit. Also, in a short period, the new chief will have a responsibility to lead the party in the Assembly elections," the leader said.
The Assembly polls in Delhi are crucial for the Congress as it will give it an opening to bounce back in a city it ruled for 15 long years until the AAP came. The death of Dikshit on July 20 came as a shock to the Congress, which now has no leader of her stature in Delhi.
The 81-year-old was Delhi Chief Minister from 1998 and 2013 and was named the party chief in January, ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, to strengthen the party in the city. After ruling the city for 15 years, the Congress secured a vote share of 24.55 per cent in the 2013 Assembly polls, which dropped to just 9.65 per cent in the 2015 Assembly polls.
After Dikshit came back as chief, the Congress vote share went up to 22.46 per cent in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from 15.10 per cent in 2014. Under her leadership, the Congress secured the second position in Delhi after the BJP, from being third in recent elections.