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Past perfect, future tense for Dikshit

Sheila Dikshit has become the only woman CMin the country to complete eight uninterrupted years in office, reports Amitabh Shukla.

india Updated: Dec 15, 2006 02:27 IST

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has just created a record — she has become the only woman chief minister in the country to complete eight uninterrupted years in office.

To mark the occasion, Dikshit will address the officers of her government and release a booklet on the achievements of the Congress government on Friday.

However, as the government enters the ninth year, it faces a crisis. The court-ordered demolition and sealing drive and Dikshit’s repeated assertion that the “rule of law” will prevail have dented the support base of the party like never before in the past eight years.

A survey conducted by the Hindustan Times in May this year showed that if elections were to be held in the city, the Congress would be out of power. The survey said that the Congress would manage to get only 30 per cent of the votes, while its rival BJP would get 44 per cent, thus dislodging the Dikshit government.

The MCD elections in the last week of March 2007 will be a litmus test of the popularity of the government.

Apart from Dikshit, only two ministers have had a dream run of eight uninterrupted years in office: Finance, PWD and Urban Development Minister AK Walia and Development, Revenue and Cooperatives Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan.

Dikshit was brought into the Delhi politics over nine years ago to tide over the factional feud among various leaders. She had a tough time initially as the local satraps flaunted their political muscle and there was a series of dissident activities even after she became the chief minister on December 3, 1998.

At that time, she was seen as a neutral choice without the baggage of factional loyalties. But in her entire tenure in the first term, she had to battle the detractors in her own party who tried 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 Chhattisgarh but retained Delhi. The results of the Lok Sabha elections also went in her favour with the Congress winning six 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 will be put on her,” said a senior Congress leader.

Email Amitabh

First Published: Dec 15, 2006 02:27 IST