With an eye on possible bypolls in Delhi, Congress is planning to field new faces. Sources have said that workers and leaders have started queuing up in the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) office, seeking Assembly tickets for the possible byelections.
The bypolls are likely to be held on all the 20 seats of Delhi Assembly constituencies that are vacant since the disqualification of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislators of all these Assemblies.
However, the matter is pending in the High Court and any decision of holding elections is yet to come.
According to sources, several stalwart Congress leaders and workers have started working on the arithmetic of the expected byelections to get tickets. However, the AAP has already announced that the party will stick to their old candidates if byelections are held in Delhi, but the Congress is internally working on a plan to field new faces for the expected byelections.
A source close to the DPCC told The Sunday Guardian: “Senior Congress leader Mahabal Mishra is seeking a ticket for the byelection from the Dwarka Assembly constituency for his son, DPCC office bearer Vinay Kumar Mishra.”
The Dwarka Assembly constituency was held by Adarsh Shastri who had defeated Mahabal Mishra in the 2015 Assembly elections. Adarsh Shastri is among the disqualified AAP MLAs.
The same source cited above said: “Similarly, Parlad Singh Sawhney, who has been a prominent face of Congress in Delhi, was defeated by Alka Lamba in 2015 from the Chandni Chowk seat and is also trying to secure his ticket.” Lamba is also among the disqualified AAP MLAs.
“Besides Sawhney and Mishra, there are dozens of other Congress leaders who are all worried of losing tickets and are trying to get their chance of contesting the possible byelections confirmed. The Congress is working to field new faces in Burari, Kasturba Nagar, Wazirpur Sadar Bazar, and Rajendra Nagar Assembly constituencies,” the source mentioned earlier said.
Denying any preparations for ticket distribution, Sharmistha Mukherjee, chief spokesperson and in-charge of the communications wing of the DPCC, said: “The Congress is not working on any programme of ticket distribution. I am not aware of any such information, but yes the party is preparing for the byelections in Delhi.”
The Congress had been in power for three consecutive terms in Delhi until 2013, but drew a blank in the last Assembly elections held in 2015.
Viewing the bypolls as an opportunity, the Congress is trying its best to make a comeback in the state Assembly.
Mukherjee said: “We have planned to hold a massive campaign in each ward of the city against the misrule of AAP and the apathy of the Central government towards the city. We are already organising programmes to energise workers across the city. There is anger among voters against the AAP and the Bharatiya Janata Party in Delhi, and this will benefit the Congress in the upcoming bypolls.”
The Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP had swept to power with 67 seats in the 70-member Delhi Assembly, leaving only three seats to the BJP and nil to the Congress in the polls held in 2015.