New Delhi: Three-time Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit was recently appointed as the president of the Congress party’s state unit. In an interview with Mint, Dikshit spoke about how she is personally not in favour of joining hands with chief minister Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
The change of guard in the Congress’ Delhi unit comes just months ahead of Lok Sabha polls. Dikshit, 80, said performing well in the forthcoming polls is her top priority. She also spoke on a range of other issues including rebuilding the party. Edited excerpts:
You have been recently appointed as Delhi Congress chief at a time when the party is one of its lowest electorally standing. What is going to be your blueprint for the revival of the party?
My priority is that we are able to do well in the elections that are coming up, which is parliamentary elections. I am going to make the party a little more vocal and effective. That’s all. You know, the party keeps on going, sometimes it’s up and sometimes it’s down, but don’t worry about it. The Congress has been there for over a 100 years and it will continue to serve the country.
What do you think was one of the big reasons for the kind of rout Congress faced in both the previous Lok Sabha and assembly elections?
Let us forget it. We have learnt lessons from that. That is all I can say. We did face it. Sometimes you win and sometime you lose. That is part of democratic politics. So, it does not discourage us from going forward. In fact, it makes us more determined to overcome.
The change in guard in Congress has happened less than three months before Lok Sabha elections. Do you think it would have been better if it had happened a little earlier?
That’s a matter of it may have been better or may not have been better. Since it was not before and it is now, we have to make the best of what has happened now. We cannot go and complain that it should have happened a week, 10 days or month earlier. That will not serve any purpose.
You had earlier said that you would accept whatever is the top leadership’s stance on AAP in terms of an alliance. What do you think now?
Look, I am personally not for it at all. Not at all. But if the high command takes a decision then we will abide by it.
What is your reason for being against it?
What do you think it is? They are a political party which is against us. Ask them whether they are against us or for us?
Do you think..
Look, Aam Aadmi (Party) is not all that important to me. For me, the priority is my own party and I hope to make it really active. Priority is that and not all the other parties.
In Delhi, which do you think is Congress’ bigger challenge—AAP or Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)?
It does not matter who the challenger is. They are our challengers and we have to fight against both of them. We have to look at ourselves; we have to make ourselves more acceptable to the people. That is what concerns me. Other parties don’t concern me.
Do you think the centre has a put a spanner in the work that AAP government has been doing? Do you think they have a valid reason when they say this. You have been a three-time chief minister and worked with the centre.
Look, I have worked as the chief minister very differently from how they are working. We changed the whole face of Delhi which they have not.
So, you don’t agree that the centre has thrown a spanner in AAP’s work?
Where has it thrown the spanner?
One of the big reasons why the earlier Congress government lost both in Delhi and the centre was the issue of corruption which the NDA had raised…
Where is the corruption? Tell me the corruption…where is the corruption? Has anybody found anything? AAP said they would give free electricity and water. Have they done it? So? Why are you blaming us?
Do you think it is time for the Congress to announce a chief ministerial candidate in Delhi?
Why? We are not facing immediate elections. When it happens, the party will decide.