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`Congress will have to pay dearly for increase in power, water rates'

Sujay Mehdudia

With an eye on elections to the Municipal Corporation in 2007, blame game begins in the ruling party

NEW DELHI: Even as elections for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi are due only in early 2007, the daggers are already out and the blame game has begun. Afraid of a poor show at the hustings, the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee and the Congress Councillors have warned the party high command that poor performance by the Administration coupled with increase in power and water charges would affect the party's chances in the civic polls.

It is understood that the Congress Councillors, who had met the AICC general secretary in-charge of Delhi, Ashok Gehlot, conveyed to him that the bungling on the power and water issues as also the poor performance in various other sectors would hit the party's chances of making it to the civic body for the second successive time when elections are held in early 2007.

It is another matter that the Councillors did raise the issue of corruption and inefficiency prevailing in the Corporation, and their own declining image that has further affected the standing of the party.

Not only the Councillors, even senior party leaders including DPCC president Ram Babu Sharma are understood to have conveyed it not only to Mr. Gehlot but also to the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi that the mishandling of the power and water crises has created strong resentment against the party in Delhi and its repercussions would be felt in the civic polls.

The party is of the view that despite repeated requests and reminders, the Delhi Government continued to back the private distribution companies and did not take concrete steps to redress the grievances of the consumers. Mr. Sharma has said on record that he was not satisfied with the power and water situation and would like the Delhi Government to do more for the common man rather than the private companies.

It is being said that even as the outrage against the inflated bills and fast running meters continues, the Delhi Government continues to look the other way. The Congress Members of Parliament too have made their resentment known to the high command and asking it to take remedial measures to set right the situation. "The high command has to intervene and take a decision on these sensitive matters otherwise we will be routed in the MCD polls as people will unleash their anger against the Congress Government and the Congress-ruled Corporation whenever they get a chance,'' a senior party leader remarked.

Interestingly, a section of the party has also conveyed to party leadership that the Delhi Government was allowing things to slide deliberately in order to ensure that the party does not fare well in the civic polls and the blame for that would fall on Mr. Sharma as he has been virtually handling the affairs of the Corporation.

"There is an attempt to bulldoze the Corporation and ensure Congress party's loss. After that the plan is to improve things to enter the comfort zone before the Assembly polls in late 2008, something that the high command has been informed about,'' another party leader stated.

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