With her third consecutive win in assembly elections in 2008, chief minister Sheila Dikshit stamped her authority on Delhi, won confidence of the central leadership and silenced her critics and detractors.
But her “unilateral” decision to split MCD in five smaller units and increase the number of councillors from existing 272 to 408 have given her rival camps within the Congress a chance to revive their anti-Dikshit campaign.
The vocal protest against Delhi’s cabinet decision to split MCD made by some MLAs in Congress legislative party meeting on Friday is being seen as one of the biggest attempts made in the recent past to challenge her leadership.
With Shunglu Committee already holding Dikshit responsible for irregularities and decisions that led to cost escalation while developing city infrastructure for the Commonwealth Games and CAG report likely to endorse the committee findings, the time seems most opportune to the rival camps.
“There have been several instances when Delhi leaders met senior party leaders with their grudges against Dikshit, this is first time a delegation has been given patient hearing by the party President herself. It shows Dikshit will have to take serious damage-control measures to save her chair,” said a senior Congress leader.
Dikshit's appointment as chief minister of Delhi has never gone down too well with other city leaders. She has always been considered an outsider forced on them by the central leadership. The rival groups have made several attempts in the past to dethrone her — the biggest being in June 2000 when several MLAs converged at the house of a former Delhi MP and planned a coup. Sources said Dikshit was getting ready for an official trip when she got a whiff of the coup. She immediately cancelled her trip and turned the tide in her favours.
The MLAs who met party president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday have been known for their leanings to her rivals, including sports minister Ajay Maken and Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president Jai Prakash Aggarwal.
Party sources said many other MLAs who currently enjoy the positions given in the assembly have also been known close to the rival camp and may change loyalties if things start getting difficult for Dikshit.