For detractors of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, this was the hardest blow of all.
Not only has Dikshit made a record of sorts by bringing the Congress back to power thrice in row, but she has also proven her political mettle by ensuring the party’s victory in the city virtually single-handedly in the face of political factionalism.
“This is a whopping mandate in favour of Sheila Dikshit. No Congress, no Sonia Gandhi. This is Dikshit’s day. The Bharatiya Janata Party did everything to lose the elections — whether it is bad candidate selection, sharing seats with Shiromani Akali Dal or the selection of a weak chief ministerial candidate. There was not much against Dikshit,” conceded a Dikshit detractor.
Her detractors within the party — prominent leaders like members of Parliament Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler and Minister of State for Urban Development Ajay Maken had insinuated that they were sidelined during the selection of candidates and were not consulted on other poll issues as well.
Sajjan Kumar, however, said on Monday that it was only fair that Dikshit being the chief minister had a greater say in the selection of candidates.
“If I were the CM, I would have also got my way,” Kumar said. He added that it was basically the development work by the party and the united face leaders put up that worked.
Initially, the leaders had distanced themselves from the campaign only to emerge when United Progressive Alliance chief Sonia Gandhi or All India Congress Committee General Secretary Rahul Gandhi addressed election rallies in the city.
The leaders, however, joined the Congress campaign at the fag end on the insistence of Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president Jai Prakash Aggarwal.
“Many of her detractors had decided to lie low and wait for the Congress to lose, in which case the blame would have fallen squarely on Dikshit’s head, as she was supposed to be running the show. Now they are shocked,” said another party source.
In fact, most senior party leaders had written off the party’s chances of coming to power a third time — limiting the number of seats to 27 at the most.
“As per my assessment, we were certain to win from 38 seats — give or take two or three seats. Some people may not have been very sure. This was a clear endorsement of the party’s policies by the urban, educated voters. The BJP’s negative campaign over the 26/11 terror attacks has boomeranged on it,” said Chattar Singh, Delhi Other Backward Castes Commission chief and state Congress in charge for Election Commission related matters.