Ex-Delhi Cong chief Arvinder Singh Lovely joins BJP
In a rude jolt to the Congress, former Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely on Tuesday walked out of his party and joined the BJP, declaring that the Congress had "died" under the current leadership. The former Delhi minister was welcomed into the BJP by party chief Amit Shah and its Delhi chief Manoj Tiwari. Lovely has joined the BJP five days before crucial civic elections in Delhi.
"The child has died. The party is finished," the 48-year-old leader said after switching sides, referring to the Congress of which he was a part since his days as a student leader. It was an attack on Ajay Maken, the Congress' current Delhi chief.
Lovely was a key member of the Sheila Dikshit-led Congress government that ruled Delhi for 15 years. Understandably an upset Dikshit accused Lovely of betraying the Congress.
"This is sad. The Congress gave them respect and honour - he was not only a minister but a state president. Now, when the party finds itself in less glorious days, they are leaving the party. I think this is treachery," the former chief minister said.
Along with Lovely, a Delhi Youth Congress leader Amit Malik also joined the BJP on Tuesday. Lovely repeated allegations made by another senior Congress leader AK Walia about party tickets for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi or MCD elections being "sold" but rued the fact that the veteran leader's concerns were ignored.
"Nobody took note of his grievances. Several leaders in the Congress are feeling suffocated for the past two years," Lovely said.
Last month Dr Walia, a former Delhi health minister had offered to resign. Apart from his allegations on MCD candidates, he also said he was upset because "no one listens."
Lovely and Walia belong to what is now the old guard in the Delhi Congress; the new is represented by Maken and his team, who are making a renewed attempt to resurrect the Congress, which has won no seats in the last two elections in Delhi - the national election of 2014, swept by the BJP, and the assembly elections a year later, swept by Aam Aadmi Party.
Elections to the MCD - now split into three civic bodies - will be held on Sunday, April 23. Votes will be counted on April 26.