New Delhi: Former Delhi MLA Amrish Gautam on Monday quit the Congress and joined the BJP, while former Congress minister A.K. Walia threatened to quit over ticket distribution for the April 23 civic polls in Delhi.
Former Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely and former state Minister Haroon Yusuf also expressed concern over the functioning of the Congress state unit headed by former Union Minister Ajay Maken.
Gautam, a three-time MLA from Kondli in east Delhi, accused the Congress of fielding candidates for the civic elections without consulting him. His son Avinash Gautam too joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.
"We were feeling cornered in the party. Nobody was willing to listen to our concerns. My self-respect was hurt by senior party leaders like Anand Sharma, P.C. Chacko and Ajay Maken," Amrish Gautam told IANS after joining the BJP.
The Congress had formed a committee headed by Anand Sharma to select candidates for elections to the three municipal corporations. Chacko is in charge of the Congress unit in Delhi.
"I requested Maken many times to respect the workers' sentiments. I even told him he was also an MLA and was quite familiar with their sentiments. I told him to take decisions in the interest of the Congress and its workers. But he ignored me," Gautam told reporters.
"I have left the Congress because my area and workers have been ignored and tickets are being distributed without consulting us. I felt neglected."
Senior Delhi Congress leader Walia too threatened to resign. "I am deeply pained... we keep trying their (leaders) phone numbers for two-three days but there is no reply. We have to handle party workers; all work is stalled."
He told media persons: "Today (Monday) was the final day (of filing nominations) and things have not been finalised yet. If they think they don't need us, they should tell us. Earlier, such things never happened in our party. There has always been a democratic system in the party."
He said some people have started thinking they have got a lot of power and hence whatever they do is right.
"This system is wrong. Earlier too we had issues, but the high command resolved the same. I don't know what kind of atmosphere are they trying to create this time," Walia told reporters in an indirect attack on Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken.
Walia said he had conveyed his anger to the Congress high command.
Walia has been an MLA from Laxmi Nagar in east Delhi for four consecutive terms. He was a minister in the Sheila Dikshit government and held the portfolios of health, urban development, land and buildings.
He was also Chairman of the Trans-Yamuna Area Development Board.
Reacting to the developments, Lovely said: "It is very unfortunate that Amrish Gautam left the Congress while senior leader A.K. Walia has threatened to quit. A leader like Walia can't revolt unless his self-respect is hurt. Whatever is happening with him is not good. We need to change our attitude. We need to give respect to senior leaders. If Walia leaves the Congress, it will be a major setback."
Lovely, a former Minister, added: "I have also been the state unit President. It is his duty and responsibility to ensure all party leaders and workers stay together. The party leadership needs to address all these issues."
Yusuf said: "There can be differences within the family but its head finds a soultion. I will also raise my concerns with the party high command. Whatever I feel, I'll speak on the party forum."
He, however, said that he did not expect anything from the current state leadership.
As for Walia's concerns, he said: "He is a senior politician and has been a minister for 15 years. It is true that the local Congress leadership, including me, was ignored during ticket distribution. But I can say one thing: Walia ji can never go against the party."
All India Congress Committee Spokesperson Manish Tewari refused to comment, saying queries related to civic polls should be addressed to the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee.
"It is an issue concerning the DPCC. We do not deal with corporation elections from this podium. All queries with regard to the corporation elections should be addressed to the DPCC," he said.