The party has not been unnerved by last year’s poll debacle and is in a mood to combat

Five months after he addressed a rally at Dakshinpuri in South Delhi for the Assembly elections, at which the crowd dwindled even before he had spoken, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday once again chose the same platform to air his views – sending out a clear message that the party has not been unnerved by last year's defeat and is in a combative mood.

Though the Congress is facing anti-incumbency against the UPA government, and also having to contend with the “Modi wave” and the “AAP effect,” it insists that the reasons which brought about the fall of the 15-year-old Sheila Dikshit government and reduced the party tally in the Assembly from 43 to just 8 no longer exist.

The Congress this time is also waging an all-out war against the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party, which it had even failed to acknowledge as a serious contender in the run-up to the Assembly elections.

This time, the Congress is targeting both the AAP national leadership and candidates on every policy and personal shortcoming.

The State unit of the party, with a new leadership in Arvinder Singh , has pulled out all the stops to rally behind the seven MPs who have been again given tickets for these elections.

An uphill task

In the 2009 parliamentary elections, the Congress won all the seven seats in the Capital with margins ranging from 93,000 to 2.4 lakh votes. But this time they are facing an uphill task in retaining the seats as the AAP has dented their traditional support base — residents of jhuggi clusters, unauthorised colonies and resettlement colonies.

With the Congress relegated to the third place in the majority of the seats in the last Assembly polls , the party is now banking on its sitting MPs of whom three — Ajay Maken, Krishna Tirath and Kapil Sibal — are Union Ministers to use their charisma, performance and personal connect to win over the voters.

In his campaign, New Delhi MP Mr. Maken listed his achievements as Urban Development Minister when “he prevented shops and offices of professionals from being sealed by amending the Delhi Master Plan” and “improved the living condition of government servants by sanctioning renovation project of government quarters.”

Similarly, North-East Delhi MP J.P Agarwal and East Delhi MP Sandeep Dikshit are campaigning on the plank of infrastructure development in the trans-Yamuna area, especially ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

On the other hand, the Congress is also staring at the prospect of losing out on the support of Muslims — who have a significant presence in Chandni Chowk, East Delhi and North-East Delhi constituencies — since the community now believes that the AAP candidates are better positioned to ward off the challenge from the BJP.