New Delhi: Talking tough as he readies a revival strategy for the party in the national capital, Delhi Congress Chief Arvinder Singh Lovely on Sunday said senior leaders Kapil Sibal, Ajay Maken and Sandeep Dikshit as well as other MPs were themselves responsible for their humiliating defeat in the city and not the central leadership.
Criticising those who are targeting Rahul Gandhi for Congress` electoral debacle, Lovely said those who enjoyed power are now trying to indulge in a blame game.
He said as far as Delhi was concerned, he along with all the seven former MPs have to take responsibility for the party`s "poor show" and promised to bring a "new-look" team with young blood to prepare Congress for assembly election.
All seven sitting MPs of Congress including former Union Ministers Sibal, Maken and Krishna Tirath were handed a crushing defeat as all of them were relegated to third position in the Lok Sabha polls, making it the worst poll debacle for the party in the national capital.
"If anybody is responsible for the debacle, then it is all the seven MPs and myself.
Ajay Maken is a two-term MP. He has been a cabinet minister and a AICC general secretary. If he cannot manage (to win) his own seat, then how is the high command responsible.
"Kapil Sibal was a cabinet Minister for 10 years. JP Agarwal has been the longest serving PCC president. Krishna Tirath is a two-term MP and was made Cabinet Minister."
Hitting out at Sandeep Dikshit, Lovely said he was two-term MP and son of longest-serving Chief Minister in the history of Delhi.
"There was no one powerful then him. Same applies to Mahabal Mishra and Ramesh Kumar also. The high command makes you ministers, PCC presidents, they make you powerful so that in time of anti-incumbency, at least, you should hold on to your seat.
"How is Rahul Gandhi responsible for their defeat? If it`s a failure then it is my failure and that of the seven candidates," Lovely told PTI in an interview.
He was responding to a question on growing criticism of Rahul Gandhi in the wake of party`s dismal performance in the Lok Sabha polls.
Lovely, who was made DPCC chief following Congress` severe drubbing in Assembly polls in December, also attacked Milind Deora and Priya Dutt for their comments which appeared to question `Team Rahul`.
"How can they hold anybody else responsible for their defeat? Priya Dutt was also a spokesperson. So unfortunately these are people who enjoyed power.
If Congress made me Minister and if I lose, then I am to be blamed, nobody else," said Lovely.
Lovely identified division of secular votes because of Aam Aadmi Party and anti-incumbency against previous Sheila Dikshit government and UPA as major reasons for Congress` staggering defeat in the Lok Sabha polls in the national capital.
The party had suffered a severe drubbing in the assembly polls last December, winning a paltry eight seats in the 70-member House after ruling the city for 15 consecutive years.
Resolving to rejuvenate the party in Delhi ahead of the next assembly polls, Lovely, who is credited with modernising transport infrastructure in Delhi as Transport Minister in Dikshit government, said he was working on a "revival strategy" and was working hard to win back support of those people who had deserted Congress.
The party leadership last month had dissolved all 14 district and 140 block committees in the national capital and gave Lovely a "free hand" to rebuild the party in the city.
"We lost the municipal election in 2012, assembly election last year and the Lok Sabha polls.
It is a major challenge and I am putting all my efforts to revive the party. The AAP had helped BJP by ensuring division of secular votes. People have seen their 49-day government and I am confident people will not support AAP again," Lovely said.
Asked whether former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit`s strategy proved wrong in the assembly polls, Lovely admitted "disconnect" between the then government and the people but said she had contributed "remarkably" during her 15-year rule for overall development of the city.
"Losing an election does not mean that we undermine somebody`s personality. But of course with time you need change, with time you need fresh air to come in.
It`s time for Congress to let the fresh air come in."
Lovely said he would announce a "new-look" team soon which will be mixture of youths and experience.
To rejuvenate the party, we would like to have fresh blood. It will be mixture of young and experienced. All communities will be given responsibilities."
Insisting that Congress will never support Arvind Kejriwal to form a government, Lovely said BJP will be Congress` main opposition in the next assembly polls as people are not going to "trust" AAP again.
"Kejriwal had a dream of becoming Prime Minister and that is why he quit Chief Ministership here. As he did not succeed, immediately after the Lok Sabha polls, he came to us seeking support to form the government again.
"They came seeking support from us when we have not changed our position on Jan Lokpal Bill. That means, Kejriwal compromised his stand on the Jan Lokpal Bill. I want to warn people that they will try to befool people again," he said.
Lovely said AAP succeeded in "misleading" people in the assembly polls but various segments including minorities are coming back to Congress realising that AAP was implementing the agenda of BJP.
The DPCC chief said all sections in the party including senior leaders are extending cooperation to him in rebuilding the party.