After Delhi rout, Sheila points fingers, Pawar blames hand that guides

SheilaA day after party was trounced in four heartland states, the knives were out in the Congress.

A day after the party was trounced in Assembly elections in four heartland states, the knives were out in the Congress Monday as outgoing Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit claimed the state unit of the party was not fully with her while Chhattisgarh unit chief Charan Das Mahant blamed internal sabotage for the defeat of 10 senior leaders there.

The turbulence in the party came as Agriculture Minister and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar attacked the Congress leadership saying people want a "strong and decisive" leader like Indira Gandhi and not "weak leaders".

It also coincided with the Congress leadership going into a huddle to find out what went wrong — and perhaps fix accountability — for the party to slump to such a morale-sapping defeat months before the Lok Sabha elections.

"We didn't get enough support from the party," Dikshit told reporters. "There's no denying the fact that there were problems in coordination" between her and the party but such problems, she said, were inevitable.

But she maintained that anti-incumbency wasn't a factor, that the work her government had done in the last 15 years was something she was extremely proud of.

Senior Delhi Congress leaders, however, disagreed with Dikshit's claim.

"The DPCC wasn't utilised enough by her. If we had been involved more, then things would have been different," said one leader, admitting there were problems in "coordination".

The allegation by Chhattisgarh's Mahant was more damaging.

"Twenty-seven of our sitting MLAs, including the CLP leader and the deputy CLP leader lost. Nobody imagined such a result," Mahant told The Indian Express.

"Ten senior leaders such as CLP leader Ravindra Choubey, deputy leader of opposition Rampurkar Singh and several-time MLAs such as Bodhraram Kanwar, Mohammed Akbar, Shiv Kumar Dahariya and Rajkamal Singhaniya lost. Rebels were propped up against them and they were financed. We have received complaints and I had informed Rahulji even before the elections. I suspect there was internal sabotage to defeat them," Mahant said.

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