New Delhi: An open war today broke out in Congress over its whitewash in Delhi elections with Sheila Dikshit attacking party's face in the polls Ajay Maken, forcing party President Sonia Gandhi to intervene to douse the fire by asking them not to squabble in public.
Hours after Dikshit attacked Maken and Congress in-charge for Delhi affairs P C Chacko virtually asking her to shut up, Sonia said it was unfortunate that senior leaders were quarrelling in the open and asked them to show restraint.
"The Congress President said that it is unfortunate. She said that senior leaders should keep restraint. She asked me to convey to all senior leaders to refrain from making such comments on their colleagues," AICC in-charge for Delhi polls P C Chacko told reporters after meeting Gandhi here.
Chacko and Delhi PCC chief Arvinder Singh Lovely, who had already put in their resignations, met Gandhi in the evening to brief her on the Delhi poll outcome. Maken, Chacko and Lovely had also met party Vice President Rahul Gandhi last evening.
The three will continue to discharge their functions till the leadership takes a view on their resignations.
Gandhi's strong message came as knives were out in the party over the debacle.
"I just pity him. Ajay Maken was not the way to put the right focus. He thought he would do all by himself. He did not involve anyone else. Quite obviously his style did not help the Congress party," 76-year-old Dikshit said, in a no-holds-barred attack on her younger rival in the party.
Chacko and Lovely strongly backed the beleaguered Maken, who was the party's chief ministerial face as the Chairman of Congress Campaign Committee.
Hitting back at Dikshit, Chacko said that it was better for Dikshit to keep silence and said the party does not endorse her views.
"It is not fair to make such comments in public against colleagues. What she said is not the correct thing. I requests all senior leaders including Sheila ji not to make such comments."
Maken's staunch supporter Lovely said there was no benefit of giving advice after the elections.
Dikshit appeared to fault the last-minute decision to bring in Maken saying "change was made in the last minute.
Ajay Maken coming in and Arvinder Singh Lovely not contesting."
"Maken could not enthuse the party. He failed to highlight the achievements of the Congress governments in the 15 years till 2013. It was not my achievement. It was Congress' achievement. They should have taken my name (during the campaign). Had they done it, the party would have done better," she told PTI.
The former Chief Minister said she would soon go to party Chief Sonia Gandhi to discuss about the ways to revive Congress in Delhi saying it was currently in "very bad shape" and that she was pained to see it losing its support base so dramatically.
Dikshit also indicated her willingness to take the responsibility to lead the party's revival.
"It is up to the party high-command to take a decision on the issue," she said.
Chacko said Dikshit should not have made such a statement. "As the AICC in-charge of Delhi, I have a request to all the Congress leaders to refrain from making any such statements."
He said Dikshit's statement was totally unfair as Maken took the responsibility as chairperson of campaign on request of the party and contested the election on the directive of the party.
"He (Maken) did his best for the elections and anybody saying anything otherwise is very, very unfair," Chacko said.