New Delhi: Congress party’s Delhi unit president Ajay Maken said on Monday that there are no talks going on between Congress and Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). He said the AAP wants Congress support in order to arrest its “political decline".
Maken also said that alliance with other regional parties in different states is not the same as Delhi, as the Congress has ruled in the state for 15 years and has a bench strength of ground leaders. Edited excerpts from an interview:
AAP had claimed last week about alliance talks with Congress in Delhi. The Congress has denied it. What is your response?
Both me and P.C. Chacko, general secretary in-charge of Delhi, are totally unaware if any talks are going on at any place. So, as far as both of us are concerned, the situation is as it was earlier. There is no question of any alliance. Now, I am speaking on (the basis) of what the decision of the high command has been earlier and all through. If there has been some recent development a day or two back, we don’t know. Both of us are clear of the fact that no such talks have been going on.
One hundred percent of Congress workers in Delhi feel that we should not have this alliance. Two important reasons—first, AAP’s popularity is on the decline and they have been unable to fulfil any promises in Delhi. The Congress’s position on the contrary has improved since 2013-14 onwards. Second thing is it was Kejriwal who as part of Team Anna (Hazare) supported by the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) at that time and was responsible for bringing in Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government.
What do you think is the reason behind the alliance talks emerging?
AAP’s performance is steadily declining both in and outside Delhi... They want to hold the hand of the Congress party in Delhi to stop this decline. Congress workers and leaders in Delhi feel that just to help the AAP, to stop its decline, why should the Congress come forward?
The Congress has been aligning with several regional parties in the past few months. How is a possible Congress-AAP combine different from alliances in other states?
Delhi can’t be compared with Uttar Pradesh, Bihar or even Maharashtra. Just three years before, we were in power in Delhi for 15 long years. The bench strength the Congress possesses in Delhi, no other party has it...we have got solid leaders at the ground level and the Congress has started to revive fast in Delhi and it is predominantly because of the leaders we possess.
Being at the helm of Delhi Congress, how do you plan a revival of the party as far as internal organization is concerned? What is the blueprint like?
We had our organizational elections in process. We had all our district presidents and block presidents before October. Secondly, all the recent programmes of the party like the rally at Ramlila Grounds and many other like that, we had very successful programmes in Delhi. Even Rahul Gandhi’s midnight march at India Gate was overwhelmingly supported by Congress workers and common citizens in Delhi alike. People want the same Congress back which Sheila Dikshit in an efficient manner ruled for 15 years; Manmohan Singh gave good governance for 10 years.
The general election is less than an year away and Delhi was one of the Congress’ weakest spots in 2014. This time you have to take on a resurgent BJP. How do you see it?
From 1998 onwards, it was the Congress which kept the BJP out of Delhi. The same Congress workers are still around. We had decimated the BJP to the extent that it could not form the government even when the Congress was removed. If a party suffered the most during 15 years of Congress regime and now, it was the BJP. At this juncture, if someone says to keep the BJP at bay, we should join hands with the AAP, I think they are being a bit unfair with the Congress party.