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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

Delhi Congress stands divided over Sheila Dikshit’s return

Atul Mathur, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 25, 2014
First Published: 08:54 IST(25/7/2014) | Last Updated: 08:57 IST(25/7/2014)

Talk of three-time chief minister Sheila Dikshit’s comeback to Delhi politics has the local Congress unit divided.

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A day after two MLAs met Congress president Sonia Gandhi to request her to recall the Kerala governor and give her charge of the organisation in Delhi, a former legislator wrote to Gandhi to keep her away from Delhi.

“It is because of Sheila Dikshit that water and electricity tariffs have gone up so much. It is because of her that the party is in such a bad state in Delhi,” former Ghonda MLA Bhisham Sharma wrote in his letter. Sharma added that a large number of party workers shared his sentiments and were implacably opposed to Dikshit’s return to Delhi politics.

Dikshit led the Congress party to victory in three consecutive elections in 1998, 2003 and 2008 but was handed out a massive defeat in 2013 assembly elections. She herself lost the election to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal by a margin of over 17,000 votes. The then Delhi Congress chief Jai Prakash Agarwal took moral responsibility of the party’s poor performance and resigned.

Dikshit was later appointed the governor of Kerala and the party gave the charge of the party to Arvinder Singh, indicating that it wanted young leaders to rebuild the organisation in Delhi. Singh was a minister in Dikshit’s cabinet in 2003 and 2008.

Sources said that two camps have sprung up in the party, one pro-Dikshit, and the other against her. “The party legislators and candidates in the last assembly elections held a meeting with the AICC general secretary and in charge of Delhi Shakeel Ahmed a few days ago. The divide between the two camps was clearly visible in that meeting too. There was a group who blamed Dikshit and her decisions for the party’s dismal performance while the other group blamed the state unit for the rout,” said a senior party leader.

Some of the legislators, who were rumoured to be supporting a BJP government and were later managed by the state president, too were vocal about the current leadership of the party and wanted a change.


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