Civic polls defeat upsets Dikshit's winning spree

The loss in the capital's civic polls may not cause too much worry to the Congress at the centre but it has certainly dented the impeccable record of Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit who helped the party romp home in Delhi elections thrice in a row.

Although the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) retained power in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) capitalising on national issues like rampant corruption and high inflation, the trifurcation of the capital's civic body by the Delhi government seems to have boomeranged on the Congress party.

The trifurcation of the humongous civic corporation was Dikshit's brainchild and she got it done despite serious objections by senior party leaders in the state.

'The split of MCD was not liked by people in the capital. We had even gone to the party high command to apprise it that trifurcation will do no good, but madam had the backing of Sonia Gandhi. We had to fall in line,' a party source told IANS, requesting anonymity.

Sources said faulty distribution of poll tickets, which led to rebellion in the party, also contributed to the Congress debacle.

'J P Agarwal (state party chief) had given the responsibility of choosing the candidates to MLAs and MPs. The tickets were given to those who were not known to voters. Many who turned rebels contested independently, playing spoilsport for the party,' said a Congress leader who declined to be named.

However, Dikshit downplayed the results and said the civic polls were not her responsibility.

"This was not my election; when we contest, we will see what happens... it was the MCD election. Whatever shortcomings were there, we have improved our tally," Dikshit said a day after the BJP retained control of the trifurcated municipal corporation.

'It is no one's responsibility... Our seats have increased, so has our vote share, and BJP has won by a narrow margin. We will deliberate on the details,' she told reporters.

According to sources, the differences between Agarwal, who heads the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee, and Dikshit affected the campaigning of the party.

'Dikshit is impervious to this defeat but her detractors in the party must have gloated over the defeat as she has overshadowed every Congress leader involved in Delhi politics,' an aide of Dikshit told IANS.

Citing the example of 2007 civic polls in which the Congress was defeated but came to power in Delhi in the following year, the aide said: 'All that matters is Delhi elections, the BJP might have cashed in on national issues but this is not the yardstick to judge performance of the Congress. It is certainly a wake up call to Dikshit though.'

The BJP won in 138 of the 272 wards in the three newly created municipal corporations of Delhi while the Congress secured victory in 78 wards. The BJP lost 26 seats as compared to 2007 when it had won 164 seats, and the Congress tally went up from 64 to 78 seats.
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