Sat. Feb 16th, 2019

Sheila Dikshit’s new innings could be a game changer for Delhi politics

Photo: PTI

For Congress, with not even a single MLA and MP from Delhi, Sheila Dikshit’s re-entry into active politics could be a shot in the arm for the upcoming Parliamentary and Assembly elections in Delhi.

After putting his papers twice in the last 19-months, Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee Chief, Ajay Maken has been finally relieved from his responsibilities. Maken, 54, has been instrumental in keeping the Party afloat during the last 3-years, after the humiliating defeat of Congress in 2015 Assembly elections and revolt by senior leaders like Arvinder Singh Lovely – who subsequently quit the party due to differences with Maken and joined BJP but came back early last year. Maken’s exit is likely to make way for veteran politician Sheila Dikshit, who underwent a heart surgery in August 2018. If happened, this could prove to be a game changer for the Congress, which currently doesn’t have even a single MLA in the State Assembly or MP in any of the seven Lok Sabha seats.

Bolstered by the recent victory in three Assembly elections, Congress Party, to a large extent, has gained the lost dynamism and putting Sheila Dikshit as the face of Delhi Congress, could be a politically opportune decision of the party. With 15-years of commendable work on her side and the ghost of Commonwealth Games no more haunting her, she could be the most trusted and acceptable name in the Delhi unit of Congress.

However, utilizing the political charisma of Dikshit, for Lok Sabha (2019) and Delhi Vidhan Sabha Elections (2020), will require different political strategies and alignments. While the Congress and AAP might enter into a pre-poll alliance in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in Delhi or multiple states, however, for the subsequent Assembly elections in Delhi, Congress should fight elections alone with a free hand to Dikshit.  

Congress got a humiliating defeat at the hands of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in 2015, made possible by a strong wave in favour of AAP and shifting of a major vote base of minorities and Dalits from Congress to AAP. During the last three years, the popularity wave of AAP has been on a downswing and Congress has a good chance to bring back its loyal voters.

With BJP’s Delhi unit, under the stewardship of Manoj Tiwari, having failed to make much of a mark and is still as complacent as it was just after winning the previous Lok Sabha elections by 7-0, Congress has enough opportunity to capture the lost ground. What matters is how prudently and strategically, it utilizes the political appeal of its senior leaders like Sheila Dikshit.

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