New Delhi: The official verdict is out: Delhi’s incumbent chief minister Sheila Dikshit, a veteran Congress party leader, has been humiliated in the elections by debutant Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP’s) Arvind Kejriwal.
So complete is the Congress’s decimation in Delhi, Dikshit put in her papers much before the official announcement came.
At 5.20pm, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was leading in Delhi with 32 seats, with the AAP tailing closely with 27 and the Congress left with just eight.
Others, including the Shiromani Akali Dal that supports the BJP, have three seats.
Given the Congress has, at the national level, already passed on the mantle of leadership to Rahul Gandhi, the party’s vice-president and putative prime ministerial candidate in 2014, the question is whether the party’s unit in Delhi will go the same way.
Dikshit, 75, who has been chief minister of India’s capital since 1998, is the nation’s longest serving woman chief minister.
Seen as an articulate, suave and good administrator, Dikshit sidelined her rivals in the state Congress unit. But analysts say it is internal differences between the state’s leaders—apart from the unpopularity of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance at the centre—that cost the party the city-state.
With Dikshit resigning her post, her future course of action is unclear.
The loss from New Delhi constituency, which she had represented since 1998, sees Diskhit’s departure from the state assembly. But she told reporters last month she was open to a role in national politics.
In the past, there have been suggestions that Dikshit could be inducted in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s cabinet, but that seems unlikely now.
Dikshit, originally from Kannauj, Uttar Pradesh, represented the constituency twice as a Lok Sabha member between 1984 and 1989. She has also served as minister of state for parliamentary affairs and minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office. She is considered close to both Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
Some analysts say veteran leaders such as Dikshit should give way to young politicians.
“Sheila Dikshit had a long career in politics and the time has come for her to gracefully end her active political career after the loss in Delhi assembly election,” said Bidyut Chakrabarty, professor of political science at Delhi university.
“There is a need for a generation change for the Congress party in Delhi and the party must look for a new leader in Delhi to win back the confidence of people. Dikshit should now become part of the Congress think tank and use her vast experience to strategize for the party.”