Will Sheila Dikshit make history by becoming the Delhi Chief Minister for the fourth time or will she be trounced in a closely contested election from her New Delhi assembly segment is a question on everyone’s lips in the capital. Sheila’s supporters also believe that she is likely to be picked up for a bigger role at the Centre by her party High Command if she delivers this time. But, before that she has to overcome the combined challenge posed by Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal who according to opinion polls is marginally ahead of her and former Delhi BJP president Vijender Gupta with whom she has a very strong adversarial relationship.
Even as sections of the media feel that Sheila Dikshit, the face of the Congress in the city, is invincible, there are indications that she is as vulnerable as any candidate in an electoral battle can be. Rahul Gandhi’s poorly-attended Dakshinpuri rally on November 17 was the first indication that all is not well within the grand old party. There are veterans who are of the view that while the Congress has been in power for 15 years, the party has been destroyed in the process. “Yes Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler had had their innings and therefore it was not surprising that they were marginalized. But why has the party not groomed anyone to take their place. A Sajjan and Tytler would never have allowed a Rahul Gandhi rally to be a flop show,” a very senior Congress politician said.
Sheila Dikshit has indeed been a phenomenon in the city. She has contributed to the city’s development and also faced serious allegations of corruption. But the fighter in her has allowed her to move forward and carry the burden of her party’s expectations on her shoulders. However, she is fighting the greatest battle of her life in the New Delhi constituency with her back to the wall.
Both Kejriwal and Gupta have made inroads into the Congress strongholds of Harijan Basti, slum areas and various residential areas housing government employees in the assembly segment. Dikshit’s supporters are making a serious bid to retrieve the situation for her as reports suggest that Kejriwal’s followers have touched base with virtually every household in this high profile constituency.
Dikshit has won from here in 1998, defeating Kirti Azad of the BJP by a little over 5,000 votes after four successive defeats in the Lok Sabha polls including one in East Delhi earlier that year. She vanquished Kirti’s wife Poonam Azad in 2003 by over 13,000 votes and improved her margin further in 2008 when she trounced Vijay Jolly.
Dikshit’s opponents have repeatedly alleged that the BJP had been soft on her in the last few elections but this time due to the presence of the Aam Aadmi Party and the RSS propping up Harsh Vardhan and Vijender Gupta, the going may not be so easy.
Dikshit can still win if she manages to convince the predominantly government employees that price rise, the major issue in these polls was a temporary phase and they should look at her overall track record and not be swayed by the charms of Aam Aadmi Party or the aggression of the BJP.