Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit would celebrate eight uninterrupted years in office on Friday by addressing the officers and releasing a booklet on the achievements of the Congress government.
With this, Dikshit has created a record. She is the only woman chief minister who had such a long uninterrupted tenure in office.
Ironically, as the government enters the ninth year, the party’s vote base has been eroded. The court ordered demolition and sealing drive and Dikshit’s repeated assertion that the “rule of law” would prevail has dented the support base of the party like never before in the last eight years.
A Survey conducted by HT in May this year said that if elections were to be held in the city, the Congress would be out of power. The survey said the Congress would manage to get only 30 percent of the votes while its rival BJP would manage a credible 44 percent which would see it at the helm of the government.
The MCD elections in the last week of March would be a litmus test on the popularity of the government. The outcome would suggest the mood of the people and how much has anti incumbency affected the government.
Apart from Dikshit, only two ministers had a dream run of 8 uninterrupted years. Finance, PWD and Urban Development Minister A.K. Walia and Development, Revenue and Cooperatives Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan.
Dikshit was brought into the Congress politics of Delhi over nine years ago to tide over the factional feud amongst various leaders. She had an extremely tough time initially as the local satraps flaunted their political muscle and there was a series of dissident activity even after she became the chief minister on December 3, 1998.
At that time, she was seen as a neutral choice without the negative baggage of factional loyalties. But in her entire tenure in the first term, she had to battle the detractors in her own party who wanted to unsettle her.
It was only after the 2003 Assembly elections that her position consolidated. The election results indicated that development had become the only agenda of the people of Delhi.
In the watershed Assembly elections, Congress lost power in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh but retained Delhi. The results of the Lok Sabha elections too went in her favour with the Congress winning six out of the seven seats.
Political observers point out that the tough phase in the long and successful innings of Dikshit begins now, particularly after the MCD polls. “If the Congress wins, Dikshit gains politically, but if it loses, the entire blame would be put to her,” said a senior Congress leader.