May 28, 2024

Sheila Dikshit

SheilaDixitFrom lording over Delhi like a queen to failing to stop Congress from supporting Arvind Kejriwal, the change of fortunes marks the end of the Dikshit dynasty, a powerful political family that took root as Sheila Dikshit became the byname for Congress in the capital.

For the last one week, a section in Congress aligned with Dikshit has been mounting pressure on the party to withdraw its promise of support to the Aam Aadmi Party. The ousted chief minister appears uneasy with the threatening tone and nonchalant manners of the man who not only felled her in her safe constituency but also painted her as the symbol of corruption in the long campaign across the capital.

But Congress has swatted aside the demand, making it clear that it would let Kejriwal become the CM. Dikshit’s detractors rushed in to ensure that her call was not heeded. That a relative junior and a minister under her, Arvinder Singh Lovely, chosen to head the state party unit, has been smashing talk of withdrawal of support to AAP has not made good optics for her.

To observers, it marks a steep fall from grace for Dikshit who till the other day could do no wrong and never went unheard, this just for losing one election.

By all indications, Congress is calling curtains on its most prominent face in the capital. Sheila’s post-defeat failure to dictate the party policy on government formation seems the best indicator that the party is looking beyond her.

With farewell bells tolling, many believe it was a glorious career which unfortunately had a bad ending. It was difficult to stay in power for endless years, especially with rising voter anger as also phenomenon like AAP. It was likely to end.

But Dikshit would have preferred a better finale. Many believe a dignified exit has been spoilt by the nature of rout in the state, that too at the hands of an upstart she had derided as worthless. Even worse, her own defeat at the hands of the AAP mascot who painted the state battle as a fight against the “corrupt regime of Dikshit” seriously dented her record in office. Else, it would have been a farewell befitting a dynasty.

When Dikshit became chief minister in 1998, few knew the Punjabi with a Brahmin surname would become so indispensable for Congress. That it would sow the seeds of a dynasty was beyond imagination.

The entry of son Sandeep Dikshit in 2004 the Lok Sabha elections startled everyone and showed her rising influence. It also marked the end of her unchallenged tenure as it antagonized her favorite legislator Ajay Maken who fancied himself as her successor. The story was never the same again. Post-2009, her style also made a dissident of a decent J P Aggarwal, the Delhi Congress chief. The antagonists were only waiting for her to fall. That explains why she finds herself lonely in the winter of what has been a fantastic career. It is now up to son Sandeep to ensure the story rolls on.

Denisha Sahadevan


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