New Delhi: Sheila Dikshit, a senior Congress leader who served three consecutive terms as Chief Minister of the capital, was blunt in her advice to her party today. "It's the people's mandate, accept it gracefully," she said, as the Congress placed third for the local elections in Delhi. The BJP had a huge lead. Arvind Kejriwal's incumbent Aam Aadmi Party or AAP was second.
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Ms Dikshit, 79, widely acclaimed for efficient governance despite some corruption scandals that emerged on her watch, said that the Congress hurted from the lack of an aggressive campaign. No heavyweight member of the Congress campaigned in the 270 wards or local constituencies that have voted for three municipal corporations. "I did not campaign because I was not invited by the party, I can't do it on my own," she said.
"Each time we lose, we learn something," said Ms Dikshit. Many teaching moments for her party have been regularly supplied for her party, which has steadily lost key civic body and state elections to the BJP, whose extended winning streak is credited largely to the immense popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "There is a BJP wave," Ms Dikshit acknowledged.
Ms Dikshit's long-time rival from within the Congress, Ajay Maken, handled the election for the party and has quit his job as Delhi chief of the party, claiming he wants to spend some time serving as "an ordinary party worker." Top leaders were vociferous in their criticism of his alleged no-suggestions-needed approach. Ashok Kumar Walia threatened to resign. Arvinder Singh Lovely went further and crossed over from the Congress to the BJP just a week before voting. Ms Dikshit made it clear that she thinks he should accept the lion's share of the blame. "He is the PCC President after all (head of Delhi branch) and the responsibility will have to be his."
Mr Maken has said in response that Ms Dikshit and her son, Congressman Sandeep Dikshit, have a long history of slandering him.