Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit will lead the Congress into the Delhi assembly polls to be held later this year, but she may not be the automatic choice for leading the government for a third term.
Party leaders in the city seem to be sharply divided over the reported decision of the Congress to not announce a chief ministerial candidate for Delhi.
“The reality is that this election is going to be contested under Sheila Dikshit and Sonia Gandhi. The amount of development work done under Dikshit makes her the fittest person to be appointed the CM,” said Subhash Chopra, chairperson of the Congress election campaign committee for Delhi polls.
Hindustan Times reported on Thursday that the Congress has decided to go to polls in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhatisgarh without announcing chief ministerial candidates.
While senior party leaders have insisted this has been done to ensure the Congress is not beaten by infighting between various factions, others say this is a warning signal for Dikshit.
“The chief ministerial candidate may not be named, but it clearly means Sheila Dikshit is not the obvious choice,” said a party source. Minister of state for urban development Ajay Maken is seen as a viable option to Dikshit.
“His involvement in the city makes him a strong candidate. This decision means that those who were not interested in the city polls so far will get interested, as there is a possibility of their being considered,” said the source.
Others point to the example of then Karnataka chief minister S.M. Krishna who led the party into polls in 2004, but was not appointed chief minister after a coalition government was formed with Janata Dal (S).
“Dharam Singh was chosen the CM. It is understood the CM leads the state into polls if a candidate for the post is not announced, but there is no assurance of another term if the party wins,” said the source.