In 2013,Sheila Dikshit, Delhi’s longest-serving chief minister, suffered a rude political shock when she was defeated from the New Delhi seat in the Assembly election byArvind Kejriwal. Since then, she served as Kerala’s governor for a few months and briefly popped up as the Congress’s Uttar Pradesh CM candidate.
Now, the veteran politician, who replaced Ajay Maken as the Delhi party chief in January, is back in the electoral contest. In her campaign rallies, the 81 year old has been reminding voters of her developmental track record as CM.
But taking on Manoj Tiwari, the Bhojpuri actor and singer who is also the BJP’s Delhi chief now, will not be an easy task. Tiwari, who’s from Bihar, had won from the Purvanchal (East Uttar Pradesh and Bihar)-dominated constituency with a margin of 1.4 lakh votes in 2014.
The Congress’s organisational strength has also deteriorated over the years—it doesn’t have a single MP or MLA in Delhi now, a far cry from its glory days in the capital.
While the Congress is hoping that the Muslim vote in North-East Delhi will return to it, Dikshit will still have to contend with the Aam Aadmi Party’s Dilip Pandey. The Congress and AAP had kept political observers in suspense with their will-they-won’t-they uncertainty over an alliance in Delhi, which would have spelt trouble for BJP, but the tie-up didn’t work out.
Dikshit’s comeback also saw its first controversy when she said in a TV debate that the 2012 gangrape had been “blown out of proportion” by the media. The incident, which had set off massive protests over women’s safety in Delhi, had added to the prevailing public anger against the Congress at the time and contributed to Dikshit’s defeat.
Now, will Delhi want its three-time CM back? We’ll find out on 23 May.