The appointment of Delhi former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit as Head of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee comes as a very disappointing decision. It shows that Congress leadership is bereft of choices and has to fall back on old guards. This was evident in choosing choosing Kamal Nath as the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh and Ashok Gehlot as CM of Rajasthan. In an era where young voters are going to determine the future of majority of candidates in the ensuing Loksabha elections, choosing choosing 18 year old Sheila Dikshit will not help attracting the youngsters in any particular manner.
Sheila Dikshit, three times CM of Delhi, was appointed the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president on Thursday. She will replace Ajay Maken who had resigned from the post citing ill-health a few days ago. However in the political circles it is widely speculated that he made way for the new president to facilitate an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party. P. C. Chacko, the in-charge of the party’s Delhi unit, made the announcement. He said that Dikshit would be assisted by three working presidents — Devender Yadav, Haroon Yusuf and Rajesh Lilotia.
In a true Congress fashion, Maken congratulated Dikshit. “Congratulations and well wishes to Sheila Dikshit on being appointed as president of Delhi Congress. I had the opportunity to work and learn under her as a parliamentary secretary and as a cabinet minister. I believe under her leadership we will play the role of a powerful opposition against Modi+Kejriwal governments,” Maken tweeted.
However, Sheila Dikshit will be hard pressed to infuse life in an almost dead party organization still reeling under the shock of defeat in Delhi. She is old and is not supposed to provide dynamic leadership that Congress requires at the moment. The Congress veteran was made the Chief Ministerial candidate for the Uttar Pradesh elections but it didn’t yield any worthwhile results for the Grand Old Party of India. Granted, Sheila Dikshit is the longest serving Chief Minister of Delhi, serving for a period of 15 years from 1998 to 2013 and she led Congress party to three consecutive electoral victories in Delhi; that is a past now. It is true that leaders seldom retire in Indian politcs, but to expect same performance from the octogenarian politcian will be nothing less than a cruelty.
It was Sheila Dikshit who was the CM of Delhi when infamous Nirbhaya episode happened that damaged Congress’s reputation for a good part. The Congress at the time was always on the backfoot and its leadership was lusterless. A kind of fatigue caughts up with the cadres and Congress gradually lost its footing in the competitive politics between BJP and the AAP.
The need of the hour, for Congress, is a young and suave leader who could talk youths in their own language. Especially, when a large section of media is playing cheer girls for Rahul Gandhi, and a perception is being built that the party is on pheonix-like rise under his leadership, this was the least that he could do. Thus, he could ensure that the party would cover lost ground in the political epicentre of India.