A senior local leader says many veterans are planning defection to the BJP.
New Delhi: In a major setback to the Congress a week ahead of the crucial civic elections, former state unit head Arvinder Singh Lovely, who was also a minister in former chief minister Sheila Dikshit’s Cabinet, along with party’s city youth wing head Amit Malik joined the BJP in the national capital. Both the leaders joined the saffron party in presence of its supremo Amit Shah, Union minister Vijay Goel, state unit incharge Shyam Jijju and local unit chief Manoj Tiwari at the BJP’s national headquarters at Ashoka Road.
Mr Lovely’s decision to quit the Congress comes at a time when the party has been struggling hard to get back its voters it had lost to the AAP in the 2015 Assembly elections. The surprise move by the two leaders left the party leadership red-faced, with a senior local leader saying that this was simply a beginning as many other veterans were also planning to join the BJP.
Mr Lovely, who had been maintaining a distance in the day-to-day functioning of the state unit, had been upset ever since he was removed from the post of the pradesh president following the party’s humiliating defeat in the 2013 Assembly elections.
Referring to the Congre-ss after joining the BJP, he told reporters: “The child has died. The party is finished.” Sources said that Mr Lovely, who at one point of time was mentored by Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president Ajay Maken, had developed serious differences with him after he replaced him as the state unit head. He was probably also not happy over the way the party had distributed tickets to its candidates for the civic polls.
Mr Lovely also referred to the allegations made by former city minister and veteran leader A.K. Walia that tickets for the MCD were being sold by the party leaders. “Nobody took note of his grievances. Several leaders in the party are feeling suffocated for the past two years,” he said.
Reacting to Mr Lovely’s decision to join the BJP, Ms Dikshit said there was a serious problem with the leadership with the Delhi unit of the party.
“The current Delhi Congress chief (Ajay Maken) is not able to reach out to leaders as needed, which is a reason why people are leaving the party,” Ms Dikshit said.
The former CM was, ho-wever, critical of Mr Lo-vely’s resignation. “When even leaders who got everything from the party leave then whom do you trust?” Ms Dikshit questioned.
Sources said that the Congress leadership was upset with Mr Lovely after he decided not to contest the 2015 Assembly elections, that too, after his name was announced as the party candidate from Gandhi Nagar, the seat he has won on four consecutive terms.
Insiders said that Mr Lo-vely’s decision was bound to impact the party’s pro-spects in areas dominated by Sikh and Punjabi voters, as he was considered as a tall, young leader in these communities. He had the credit of not losing even a single election.