Former Delhi Congress chief and four-time MLA Arvinder Singh ‘Lovely’ joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday, dealing a severe blow to the grand old party just a week ahead of municipal elections in the national capital.
Delhi Youth Congress president Amit Malik also switched sides along with Singh, who was one of the key ministers in Sheila Dikshit government.
A blame-game started immediately with Dikshit holding Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken responsible for the desertions.
“I had given 31 years to the party but what did I get in the end? Nothing. I was not even included in the core committee set up for the municipal elections,” Singh told HT.
“Till Monday night, I was campaigning for the party with Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Raj Babbar. On Tuesday morning, I read in newspapers that the party manifesto was released. It was insulting.”
Singh said he also failed to get appointments with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi to apprise them about the state of affairs in the party.
Singh held important portfolios such as education, tourism, urban development and transport as a minister. Elected to the assembly from Gandhi Nagar seat for the first time in 1998, he had not lost a single election.
He did not contest the 2015 elections when the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won a brute majority.
“I talked to BJP president Amit Shah over phone in the morning and I joined the party in the afternoon. This is the difference between the two outfits. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah have changed the definition of politics in the country. I am inspired by their style of functioning, hence came to BJP,” he added.
Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari said Singh will strengthen the party in several areas of East Delhi.
“It proves that the policies of the Prime Minister are wining the trust of the people of the country. Their faith in his policies are increasing. I believe that Arvinder with BJP will serve the city best.”
The Congress leader was a key man for the party in the April 23 MCD polls and its plans of returning to Delhi’s political landscape after a humiliating defeat in 2015 when it failed to win a single seat.
Former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit termed Singh’s exit as a “disappointment” and blamed Ajay Maken responsible for the departure of senior party leaders.
“I am very disappointed, especially the way Arvinder Singh ‘Lovely’ has left the party. The party has done so much for him and placed him at top positions in the past. There is something which is not up to their expectations or they are being ignored,” she told HT.
Diskhit, Delhi’s chief minister for three consecutive terms from 1998 to 2013, said most people in the party complained that Maken does not reach out to everyone.
“He is not (easily) available. In democratic politics, the most important thing is to reach out to everyone and this is not happening at the moment,” she added.
Maken, however, dimissed the charges and said in every party, leaders have complaints but those are discussed at appropriate forum.
“We join a party on the basis of its ideology. We are bound by our principles. If we have complaints, we can’t go to the people who are ideologically opposite. It is unfortunate that the Congress leader has gone to the one whom he was criticising earlier,” he added.