The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delhi Cong rebels raise revolt pitch

New Delhi, Feb. 2: Delhi Congress dissidents have raised the pitch of their campaign to remove chief minister Sheila Dikshit with an eye on the Assembly elections scheduled later this year.

The rebels were particularly encouraged by recent events in Maharashtra, where Vilasrao Deshmukh was removed as chief minister, reportedly because of pressure from Congress dissidents.

Some of the 52 Congress legislators in Delhi have joined hands to oust Dikshit.

The anti-Dikshit camp is led by state Congress chief Subhash Chopra, who has the support of senior leaders such as Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler.

Rebel legislators have reportedly submitted a memorandum to the party’s central leadership, criticising Dikshit’s functioning. But whether they will manage the required numbers in a show of strength is unclear.

Dikshit, too, has been lobbying hard to have Chopra replaced with one of her loyalists, state transport minister Ajay Maken, Congress insiders said. But the move backfired and helped unite malcontents within the state party unit, they added.

The Dikshit-Chopra tussle has been going on ever since the Congress came to power in Delhi four years ago. Though both sides have tried to corner each other, neither has been able to inflict any serious damage so far.

The rebels have not been successful in getting Dikshit removed because of her proximity to Congress president Sonia Gandhi despite the fact that Delhi Congress in charge Kamal Nath is not very happy with the chief minister.

The rift, however, is increasingly getting wider. For the first time on January 31, the government and party’s state unit addressed two public gatherings on the same day, making their differences public.

The rebel MLAs allege that there is a communication gap between the party and the government and that their development-related demands are not being addressed.

A senior Congress leader said a leadership change is unlike at this stage in Delhi as Sonia was busy with the forthcoming elections in Himachal Pradesh.

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