Sheila Dikshit's uncharacteristic remark that she had been sounded by the Congress leadership for a new role at the Centre has fuelled speculation about her possible exit from Delhi's politics.
The longest serving Delhi chief minister told a television channel last night that "I got
definite signals from the High Command but it's not a decision I can take, it's for the PM and the Congress Chief to take the call. I enjoy doing this job''.
The revelation that she had received indications from the top leadership has also surprised many in the Congress circles as any kind of communication from the party's bosses is considered privileged and not shared with others, least of all the media.
Many of her detractors believe that she may have expressed her willingness to move to a new role at the Centre after being informed by the leadership that she was going to be replaced with one more year to go for the Assembly polls in Delhi.
Another interpretation of the interview is that by giving an impression that she was ready to take up any new role given to her by the High Command, she was trying to extract an assurance from them that she would not be moved from her present job.
If such an assurance comes, she will consolidate her position further as a leader who is considered indispensable by the Congress in Delhi.
Dikshit had recently re-allocated portfolios to her Cabinet colleagues but had not got permission from the Central leadership to drop any of her colleagues.
Dr A.K.Walia, who has been a minister with her since the very beginning of her tenure, was divested of some key portfolios but was not dropped. But the message that emanated from the re-allocation was that she was firmly in the saddle.
A possible hitch, which could come up if she is moved, is that the party will have to decide on whether to replace her with a sitting MLA or a MP.
If a MP takes over, it would mean two elections as the new incumbent will have to contest an assembly seat and the party will have to find someone for the vacant Lok Sabha seat. The Congress may not be too eager to do that given a negative perception about its conduct at the Centre. Even if Dikshit is given a larger role, she will have to be accommodated in Parliament, which is not going to be an easy task.
The possible successors to her include Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken, her colleague, Dr Walia, former Delhi Congress Chief Subhash Chopra and Assembly Speaker Yoganand Shastri.
'No such feelers from top brass'
The suspense over Sheila Dikshit's "possible shift to the Centre" continued with the Delhi CM herself neither denying nor confirming any such move.
Talking to the Hindustan Times on Thursday, the CM said, "The buzz has been going on for a very long time now. But I have not got any feelers from the party high command. I cannot comment on the buzz unless something actually happens."
She said she had not got any signals from the people "who can actually take such decisions". "I will do what the party brass asks me to do." Dikshit, in power for the past 14 years, is the longest serving Delhi CM.
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