Cong worried over rejection in urban areas

New Delhi: Despite its projection that the loss in municipal elections in Delhi and Mumbai was due to local factors, Congress appears concerned over the growing rejection of the party in urban areas. At the AICC briefing today, the party struggled to pinpoint the reasons for the defeat in Delhi, where Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit is at the helm for 14 years, swinging between the "global" issue of price rise and local factors like sanitation and drinking water.

"Price rise is undoubtedly a reality…. Spiralling prices definitely affect the common man…. We do not rule it out. Government has been taking steps to check it. Moreover this is not a problem affecting only our country but a global phenomenon after the economic recession," party spokesperson Rashid Alvi said. He was asked whether the party lost Delhi municipal elections due to rising prices, a reason city by party MP Sandeep Dikshit, son of the Delhi Chief Minister.

Alvi at the same time maintained, "municipal elections are after all limited to municipal issues. It`s always the issues like sanitation and drinking water that dominate such polls," when specifically asked whether price spiral led to Congress defeat in municipal polls. The Congress spokesperson also sought to remind that his party had won the last Assembly and Lok Sabha elections even after losing in the previous Municipal polls.

Alvi, however, evaded a question on fixing responsibility for the defeat saying "party`s internal matter are not discussed with media". A party leader speaking on the condition of anonymity, however, admitted that there is "problem" as the party is increasingly performing poor in urban areas of which the municipal results in Delhi and Maharashtra are indicators.

The leader also admitted that Congress could not do as expected in urban areas in Punjab in the recently concluded Assembly elections, where it was hoping to wrest a large number of seats from BJP. Party leaders speaking on the condition of anonymity admit that this does show that all is now well with the party`s fortunes and the trend could continue.

There is a view in the party that an impression against the ruling combine had been formed after the series of corruption cases that came to fore and the campaign by Anna Hazare led civil society. "We were quite hopeful of winning in East Delhi, where a number of development works were carried out. It is where the Assembly constituency of Chief Minister falls and her son represents the Parliamentary seat," the leader said.

The outcome of the polls is seen as a huge disappointment for Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit who had pushed hard to trifurcate the MCD despite stiff resistance from a number of party leaders who had warned that splitting the 53 year-old body ahead of the polls will cost the party dear.

Dikshit, who had addressed series of rallies across the city and campaigned hard for the polls, had ruled out price rise highlighted by BJP as an issue. Senior party leader Subhash Chopra, who had led a delegation to party president Sonia Gandhi last year opposing split in the MCD, said the timing of the trifurcation was "totally wrong" which might have cost the party.