Cabinet berth eludes Sheila, AICC revamp may decide her future role
Sunday's Cabinet reshuffle has put to rest all speculation regarding the shifting of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to the Centre. Pankaj Vohra reports.delhi Updated: Oct 30, 2012 02:02 IST
Sunday's Cabinet reshuffle has put to rest all speculation regarding the shifting of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to the Centre.
Dikshit had herself told a news channel earlier this month that she had been sounded by the Congress high command about her possible exit from Delhi politics, which was interpreted by some of her supporters as the first indication of a bigger role for her in the Union government. A section of the media also suggested that she would make a good home minister.
However, it is yet to be seen if the longest serving chief minister of Delhi gets accommodated in the AICC whose revamping is also on cards or remains in her present position with more than a year to go for the Delhi assembly elections.
The party leadership has been considering its strategy regarding the Capital and full details of this would be known once Rahul Gandhi assumes greater responsibility and lays down the agenda for future elections.
The Cabinet reshuffle is also being deciphered in the city's political circles as a setback for the chief minister since Ajay Maken who served as a minister under her has been elevated to the Cabinet rank.
Technically and in terms of protocol, it means that he has become senior to her as the Delhi chief minister does not enjoy the status of a full Cabinet minister like other chief ministers do but that of a minister of state. This is because Delhi is not a state but the National Capital Territory and has a `C' grade assembly with both the police and land use being under the purview of the Central government.
Secondly, the Delhi Lt.Governor is the Chief Administrator of the capital region and has overriding executive powers. He too has the rank of a minister of state and coordinates with the Union home secretary on most matters.
But political circles here are also wondering as to what could happen if Maken was to be made the Delhi chief minister at a later date. Will it be seen as a demotion for him or would his moving to the office also enhance the status of the position.
So far, four Delhi chief ministers have also served as Union ministers but their stint in the Central government, with the sole exception of Sushma Swaraj, has been after their tenure as chief ministers ended on one count or the other. The four were Chaudhury Brahm Perkash, Madan Lal Khurana, Sahib Singh Verma and Sushma Swaraj.
Swaraj, currently the leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, was the Delhi CM for barely two months in 1998 when the BJP's central leadership brought her briefly to this post interrupting her tenure as a Union minister to avoid a face off between Khurana and Verma. She returned to the Centre after the BJP lost power to the Congress.
With Maken's elevation, Delhi has two Cabinet ministers - Kapil Sibal and Maken - and one minister of state, Krishna Tirath in the present government. In addition, Dr Karan Singh enjoys the Cabinet status by virtue of heading the Indian Council of Cultural Relations and Janardhan Dwivedi is a the chief spokesman of the Congress party.
The latest Central rejig also has another Delhi angle to it. Both, Salman Khurshid - who is the new external affairs minister - and Ashwani Kumar, the law minister are both students of Delhi Public School, Mathura Road.