Question mark hangs over status of coordinators appointed by DPCC president

With the All-India Congress Committee general secretary in charge of Delhi Birender Singh issuing a note on Thursday stating that the panel is “considering appointment of observers for all the 70 Assembly seats of Delhi’’, a question mark now hangs over the status of a similar panel set up by Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president J. P. Agarwal earlier this week.

It was only on January 13 that Mr. Agarwal had announced the constitution of a committee of Pradesh coordinators for the Delhi Assembly elections. He had also appointed observers at the district and Assembly levels, who were mandated to visit the Assembly constituencies and hold booth-level meetings in the wards under them.

Following Mr. Agarwal’s announcement, a number of Delhi MLAs and MPs are learnt to have opposed the decision. A senior MLA said over two dozen legislators and four MPs, including one Union Minister, had written to the central party leadership about the ‘unilateral decision’. Those opposed to Mr. Agarwal said his decision would not be in the interest of the Congress in the upcoming elections as some of the observers he had appointed had lost even in the 2007 Municipal Corporation of Delhi elections. “Incidentally, one such appointment is in the Chief Minister’s constituency,’’ he said.

For his part, Mr. Singh maintained that he was “not concerned about how the DPCC collects information from the constituencies’’.

“We at the AICC have our own system of deciding on the names of the observers. The elections to the Delhi Assembly are nine months away. In order to assess the ground reality and to galvanise the Congress workers at the grassroots level, we are considering appointment of observers for all the 70 Assembly seats.’’

Incidentally, while Mr. Agarwal’s team of observers was primarily drawn from Delhi, Mr. Singh said in the AICC list “these observers will be from different States of the country. In order to get a fair and transparent assessment, none of them would be from Delhi.’’

Moreover, Mr. Singh said all the names would be finalised only after they are approved by Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

The stand-off between the DPCC leader and the AICC in-charge of Delhi has come at a time when Mr. Agarwal is already learnt to have conveyed to the party leadership through “unofficial channels’’ that he was no longer interested in being the Delhi unit chief.

Mr. Agarwal is learnt to have been annoyed at the manner in which he has been treated by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, whom he has accused, of not doing anything for the party unit and in fact ignoring it while taking important decisions.

The PCC chief’s detractors on the other hand insist that Mr. Singh’s note was a clear indicator that Mr. Agarwal was on his way out now. Already the party circles are abuzz with the names of Delhi Speaker Yoganand Shastri and Delhi PWD Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan being tipped for the post.

While Dr. Shastri is a senior Jat leader who it is said could also swing the rural votes towards the party, Mr. Chauhan represents the Scheduled Caste community and projecting him, many insist, would send out the right signal to the community. In case Mr, Agarwal was to be replaced by another Vaish community leader, party sources say former Minister Narender Nath would be one of the serious contenders.

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