Singh replaces J.P. Agarwal, who resigned after the Assembly poll debacle
A fortnight after the party faced its worst-ever defeat in the Delhi Assembly elections, Congress president Sonia Gandhi appointed former Minister Arvinder Singh as the president of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee on Thursday.
Mr. Singh replaces J. P. Agarwal, who resigned over a week ago taking “moral responsibility” for the drubbing in the recent elections. Mr. Agarwal had quit soon after Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit blamed the party’s State unit for not extending the required support to her in the election campaign.
Mr. Singh, who has been a part of Ms. Dikshit’s Cabinet since 2003 and handled a number of key portfolios like Transport, Education and Revenue, is considered close to the outgoing Chief Minister.
According to sources, the balance tilted in favour of the three-time MLA from Gandhi Nagar in East Delhi due to the tag of being a “performer” and being relatively younger than other senior leaders who were in the reckoning for the top post.
“He carries the image of being more connected to the people. He is considered a performer, especially during the tenure as Education Minister. He is in his mid-forties. So the decision is also guided by the party’s newfound mantra of promoting Generation Next. Moreover, central leaders like Ajay Maken and Krishna Tirath would not be willing to take the responsibility of Delhi Congress at this stage,” said a senior Congress leader. The decision would also send a message to the “politically significant” Sikh and Punjabi community in the city, he added.
Congress-backed Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi) had lost heavily in the recent elections of the Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee.
Speaking to The Hindu , Mr. Singh said making the party reach out to the youth would be on top of his agenda. “We will target the youth. The party will soon launch an outreach programme to connect with the youngsters. We will launch a door-to-door programme to reconnect with the voters,” he said, adding that he would consult with all the senior leaders of the DPCC and the AICC in his initiatives to strengthen the party.
The former Minister targeted the Aam Aadmi Party for not making its stand clear on government formation and said the Arvind Kejriwal-led party emerged victorious as the Congress failed to expose the AAP’s “false promises” made to the electorate. “We will convey the reality to the people and expose the propaganda they ran against us,” he added.
The Congress was thrown out of power after 15 years and the party could win only eight Assembly seats, in comparison to 43 in the 2008 polls.