Lovely not to contest Delhi poll, denies rift with Makena

New Delhi: Congress's Delhi chief Arvinder Singh Lovely will not contest the Feb 7 assembly elections and will look after the organisation for the poll, the party announced Sunday. Lovely denied that the development followed any difference with new campaign panel chief Ajay Maken.

"The party has requested Lovely, candidate from the Gandhi Nagar constituency, to withdraw from the contest and look after the organisation of the elections," senior party leader P.C. Chacko, in-charge of party affairs in Delhi, told reporters Sunday.

"The dearth of leadership at the Pradesh Congress Committee to organise these polls has resulted in our requesting him to not contest this election. It was a party decision and was taken in order to organise the party at the grassroots level," he said.

Lovely refuted reports of differences between him and party leader Ajay Maken, who is being projected as the party's face in the polls, and said he was happy to take up the role offered to him.

"There is no question of being upset... Ajay Maken was made the chief of the campaign committee on my recommendation," Lovely said.

"I feel thankful that my party thinks I can handle the Delhi election. Congress is bigger than Lovely and we need to win whole Delhi, not just Gandhi Nagar," he told reporters.

He asserted that the party was united.

"The leadership of the party in Delhi is totally united," he added, expressing confidence that the people of Gandhi Nagar will vote for "my representative" from the seat.

Lovely's name was announced in the first list of candidates announced by the Congress. A minister in the Sheila Dikshit government, he was one of the eight party candidates who had won in the December 2013 elections.

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