Congress in damage-control mode after old guard, their relatives are denied party tickets

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The final list of 70 candidates from the Congress for the December 4 Assembly elections may have the youth elated, but has left the old guard grumbling. The final list of 70 candidates from the Congress for the December 4 Assembly elections may have the youth elated, but has left the old guard grumbling.
SummaryThe final list of 70 candidates from the Congress for the December 4 Assembly elections may have the youth elated, but has left the old guard grumbling.

The final list of 70 candidates from the Congress for the December 4 Assembly elections may have the youth elated, but has left the old guard grumbling.

Over the last few weeks, several senior leaders were lobbying to secure tickets for themselves or their children. But save a few like Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, West Delhi MP Mahabal Mishra and Sajjan Kumar, the rest were unsuccessful.

The Congress has now turned its attention to pacifying veteran leaders even as the party seeks to shift gear for the last phase of campaigning in Delhi.

“There were many senior leaders who sought tickets for their children, including Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) President J P Agarwal, MP Krishna Tirath, Rajya Sabha MP Pervez Hashmi and four-time MLA Mukesh Sharma,” a senior leader said.

According to sources, there was some dissent within the Congress, but unlike the BJP, whose leaders aired their sentiments in public, it was mostly muted.

“Senior functionaries in the AICC are talking to Delhi leaders who were not successful in securing tickets either for themselves or their children. Many have been pacified and will not work to harm the party’s interests,” a senior DPCC functionary said.

But the Congress has more than disgruntled leaders to deal with. Sources in the party said at least 13 candidates were nominated contrary to results of surveys conducted by the DPCC and AICC.

“These seats include many sitting MLAs, including Cabinet ministers, who face severe anti-incumbency. But Dikshit pushed hard for all Congress MLAs. These 13 candidates have an uphill task ahead of them,” a source said.

Congress offices on Friday also witnessed sporadic protests from certain district and block units. “Block- and local-level leaders from constituencies such as Model Town, Kasturba Nagar, Ashok Vihar, Timarpur and Burari have expressed their discontent with the candidates declared in their respective constituencies. But we believe our decisions are correct and the grassroot workers will be convinced soon enough when active campaigning begins,” a senior leader said.

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