In remarks that can only be interpreted to mean that the Congress may already be looking beyond the next election, Delhi party chief
Arvinder Singh Lovely has said the endeavour would be to "build it (the party) up from scratch" and "one or two defeats do not make any difference".
He, however, said the alternative to the Congress, both the Aam Admi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had not exactly been paragons of governance and administration, with the former having run away from governance after 49 days and the latter making a mess of three municipal corporations - south, north and east - that it rules .
"I don't disagree with that (anti-incumbency). Because of the 15 years Congress' rule at the centre there is certainly an anti-incumbency factor," Lovely, 49, the first Sikh to head the Delhi unit, told IANS in a candid interview at the party headquarters in central Delhi.
Lovely succeeded Jai Prakash Agarwal as the Delhi Congress unit president after the latter quit in the wake of the party's ignominious defeat in last December's assembly polls in which it got only eight out of 70 assembly seats – after three successive terms.
Lovely admitted the party is going through trying times but was confident it will "bounce back soon", if not in months.
"One or two defeats do not make any difference," said Lovely, adding that the party will have to be "built up from scratch".
On the Delhi unit's plans for the general elections, Lovely said: "We will go to all the seven parliamentary constituencies and tell the people about the achievements of the Congress government and also expose the 50 days of AAP rule, and the BJP rule in the municipal corporations."
Asked if he thought the party will be able retain all the seven seats at a time when the BJP is being seen as the favourite and the AAP could repeat its assembly success, Lovely said stoutly: "It is too premature to say, but (AAP leader) Arvind Kejriwal and Narendra Modi (the BJP's prime ministerial candidate) are more of a media creation."
Lovely, who has held several portfolios in the three governments of former chief minister Sheila Dikshit, said that the AAP government - propped up by the Congress party from outside - "blew up the opportunity and ran away from its responsibility".
"Has the AAP government performed better, and how is the BJP doing in the corporations? They will not do anything different if they come to power at the centre," Lovely maintained.
After the elections threw up a hung assembly, the Congress offered outside support to AAP to form the government. Asked what prompted this, despite the party being divided on the move, Lovely said: "On every issue there are different views. Congress party has a democratic set up."
"The people had voted for AAP's manifesto so we gave them the opportunity to fulfill their promises, but they failed to deliver," Lovely said.
After 49 days in power, AAP chief minister Arvind Kejriwal quit, accusing the Congress and the BJP of stalling the anti-graft Jan Lokpal Bill in the Delhi assembly.
"He says that he has quit over Jan Lokpal Bill, but it never came for voting in the house. Voting was done on the lieutenant governor's message on whether it was constitutional to introduce the bill," said Lovely.
"He (Kejriwal) is a liar. He can have a referendum of the people to form the government, but why didn't he hold the same referendum before leaving the government," Lovely asked.
Gaurav Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org