Delhi Congress chief Lovely's resignation lays bare factional feud; AAP calls it ally's 'internal matter'

However, Lovely asserted on Sunday that his resignation only applied to his role as the chief of the Congress' Delhi unit and that he wouldn't be joining any other political party.
Former Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely addresses a press conference, in New Delhi, Sunday, April 28, 2024.
Former Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely addresses a press conference, in New Delhi, Sunday, April 28, 2024.Photo | PTI

Amidst the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, the Congress faced a significant blow after its Delhi unit chief, Arvinder Singh Lovely, stepped down from the leadership role. Lovely's resignation comes as a critique of the party's alliance with the AAP and the recent statements made by Congress candidates Kanhaiya Kumar and Udit Raj.

However, clarifying his stance, Lovely asserted on Sunday that his resignation only applied to his role as the chief of the Congress' Delhi unit and that he wouldn't be joining any other political party.

In his letter sent to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Saturday, Lovely also said that he found himself "handicapped" as all unanimous decisions taken by senior Delhi unit leaders have been "unilaterally vetoed" by AICC Delhi in-charge Deepak Babaria.

The Delhi Congress unit was against the alliance with AAP but the party high command went ahead with it, Lovely said, as his resignation brought to the fore the party's factional feud.

Addressing a press conference on Sunday, Lovely appeared to reject suggestions that he stepped down as he was not given a ticket and asserted that he was not joining any other political party.

"Some people are spreading misinformation that I was upset over ticket(distribution). It is not like that. You all know that I introduced the candidates by holding a press conference three days ago," Lovely said.

"I have only resigned as Delhi Congress chief and I am not joining any political party," he added.

Lovely's clarification came after Congress ex-MLA Asif Mohammad Khan claimed that the BJP would field Lovely from the East Delhi constituency, replacing Harsh Malhotra, while AAP leader Saurabh Bharadwaj also fuelled speculation about the saffron party changing its candidate.

With a section of leaders demanding the removal of Babaria, the AICC Delhi in-charge said it was "unfortunate" that Lovely's resignation came at a time when the general elections in the country were underway, but asserted that it won't affect the Congress, while the Aam Aadmi Party termed it an internal matter of its ally.

The BJP said it was an "unnatural alliance" forged by the leadership of the AAP and Congress to "shield their corruption," but their party workers had not accepted it.

Lovely had resigned from the post of Delhi Congress president in 2015 as well. He joined the BJP in 2017 but returned to the Congress almost nine months later.

A senior Congress leader said a decision on appointing a new Delhi unit chief will be taken soon since the Lok Sabha elections are less than a month away.

Former Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely addresses a press conference, in New Delhi, Sunday, April 28, 2024.
Battle for Delhi: AAP-Congress alliance challenges BJP in Lok Sabha Polls
Former Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely addresses a press conference, in New Delhi, Sunday, April 28, 2024.
Delhi: Lovely says Congress will win all three seats with record margin

In his letter to Kharge, Lovely said he saw no reason to continue as he could no longer "protect the interests of the party workers."

He claimed that the DPCC was not given any intimation about the decision to field Kanhaiya Kumar from the North East Delhi seat and Udit Raj from the North West Delhi seat before the official announcement was made by the party's high command. He also referred to them as "total strangers" to the Delhi Congress and party policies.

Lovely said that even though the Delhi Congress unit was against the alliance with AAP, he publicly backed it and even withdrew his name as a potential candidate.

"The Delhi Congress unit was against an alliance with a party which was formed on the sole basis of levelling false, fabricated and mala fide corruption charges against the Congress party... half of the cabinet ministers (of the party) are presently in jail on corruption charges," he said.

Lovely lashed out at Kanhaiya Kumar for heaping praise on Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is behind bars in a money laundering case.

"The candidate from North East Delhi has also been giving media bytes falsely praising the Delhi CM, in direct contravention of the party line and the local party workers' beliefs.

"In direct contradiction to the true factual position and the misery of Delhi citizens, he endorsed the false propaganda of AAP in regard to the supposed work done by them in the education, health, road and electricity sectors," he said.

"Such ill-thought and factually incorrect statements have not gone down well" with the Delhi Congress unit since "the local party workers had an inherent understanding that the alliance was not done in appreciation of AAP's false propaganda of the development of Delhi," he said.

In fact, Lovely added, the alliance was a "compromise" to improve the chances of the Congress's victory in the Lok Sabha polls.

"It appears that the North East Delhi candidate is unaware of the fact that, admittedly, the condition of schools, hospitals and public infrastructure in Delhi under the AAP rule, has severely worsened as compared to the development work done under the late Sheila Dikshitji's Congress regime," he said.

The Congress and AAP are constituents of the INDIA bloc formed by opposition parties to take on the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls. While AAP is contesting four Lok Sabha seats in Delhi, the Congress has fielded candidates for three.

Lovely accused Udit Raj of making "anti-party" statements in the press and disrespecting party workers. He claimed Raj had written several letters to him, asking him to suspend various generational local leaders.

On Sunday, some party workers gathered outside Lovely's residence and raised slogans against Babaria who, meanwhile, stressed that all DPCC leaders were taken into confidence on the alliance issue and Lovely should have aired his views before the party panels.

"He (Lovely) was part of all the committees and panels; he should have raised his objections back then. Anyone who distances themselves from any party or posts tends to find a reason to do so," Babaria told reporters.

"The party showed faith in him and gave him such a big position, but what he did was sad. His resignation won't affect the party and I am confident that we will win all three Lok Sabha seats from Delhi in the elections," he added.

A scuffle broke out in front of Lovely's residence as his supporters allegedly pushed former Congress MLA Asid Mohammed Khan who had reached there.

Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit, the son of former chief minister Sheila Dikshit, said, "He (Lovely) is pained. There is a personal pain as a Congress worker and as Delhi Congress' chief. I think attention needs to be paid to what he said."

AAP senior leader Bharadwaj said it was an internal matter of the Congress. "It won't be appropriate for me to comment on the matter. AAP is fighting on the four seats it is contesting with full strength and we are hopeful that people will vote for INDIA bloc candidates on all the seven seats in Delhi," he said.

Earlier in the day, he had asked in a post in Hindi on X, without naming anyone, if the BJP was changing its candidate for East Delhi.

Delhi BJP chief Virendra Sachdeva said Lovely has responded to the voice of his conscience and the implosion within the Congress started the moment the party announced its Lok Sabha candidates.

"It was an unnatural alliance that was formed by the top leadership of the two parties to shield their corruption but their workers never accepted it," he said.

"No patriot can stand with a person who talks about dividing the country and stands with the enemies of the nation. I think this line will be drawn further as many others are raising their voice against the way the Congress has distributed its tickets," Sachdeva added.

Lovely had contested the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 from East Delhi against the BJP's Gautam Gambhir and AAP candidate Atishi, securing 24 per cent votes.

Gambhir won the seat by 3.93 lakh votes ahead of Lovely in the second position.

Delhi's seven Lok Sabha seats will go to the polls in the sixth phase of the general election on May 25.

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express