Haroon leads Cong race for House leader

DelhiNew posters at Congress office. Amit Mehra

Former Cabinet minister Haroon Yusuf is tipped to be the new Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader. The meeting to choose the leader is scheduled on Saturday.

On December 18, Arvinder Singh Lovely, also a member of Sheila Dikshit's Cabinet, was appointed president of the Congress's state unit in Delhi. He replaced J P Agarwal, who resigned on December 15 citing "moral grounds" after the party's drubbing in the Assembly elections.

Both Lovely who is the youngest PCC chief and Yusuf are considered close to Dikshit. After her defeat, she had publicly lashed out at Agarwal and blamed him for not backing her "enthusiastically".

Dikhit's continued importance was indicated by Lovely's appointment and if Yusuf does become the CLP leader, Congress leaders said this would only underscore the importance of Dikshit's position in the party. "Don't think even for a second that Sheila Dikshit is out of the picture," the leader said.

After Congress's defeat, the party's strength in the 70-member Assembly has come down from 43 in 2008 to just eight this year. Dikshit lost to AAP's Arvind Kejriwal by more than 25,000 votes.

On the day of the defeat, the party's state headquarters wore a deserted look. Corridors were empty and rooms were locked. Now, days before Kejriwal takes up the reigns in Delhi, with Congress support, the DPCC is a site of frenzied activity. With a fresh coat of paint, polished floors, a new board and leadership, the DPCC is trying to evolve in these changed times.

Soon after Lovely replaced Agarwal, a board featuring Agarwal at the entrance of the state headquarters was taken down and replaced with another one, congratulating Lovely. Changes are also being carried out on the second floor of the DPCC office, where the president sits.

The president's room previously had a number of photographs of Agarwal alongside Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi on its wall. These are now being removed.

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