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Congress clips Sheila’s wings

Delhi rebellion brewing, powers redistributed

Sanjay K. Jha New Delhi Published 17.07.19, 09:25 PM
Shiela Dikshit during a press conference in New Delhi on 26 August, 2014.

Shiela Dikshit during a press conference in New Delhi on 26 August, 2014. (Telegraph file picture)

The central leadership of the Congress on Wednesday almost rendered Delhi unit chief Sheila Dikshit powerless and delegated authority to the three working presidents, amidst a brewing rebellion in the state party.

In a letter to Dikshit, Delhi Congress in-charge P.C. Chacko wrote: “As you are not keeping well and (have been) hospitalised and I did not receive any reply to any of my letters, in the interest of the party, I am authorising working presidents to hold meetings of district presidents and block presidents of their respective areas to take appropriate decisions to activate the party and report to you the decisions taken.”


Chacko was referring to the letters he wrote on June 29, July 1 and July 13, which were not responded to. The internal crisis erupted when Dikshit dissolved district and block committees and appointed observers to “strengthen the party” before next year’s Assembly elections. This was seen as Dikshit’s attempt to take control of the organisation as these committees were constituted during her predecessor Ajay Maken’s tenure.

What is most intriguing is that a majority of Delhi Congress leaders believe that Dikshit had not dissolved the committees and a clique was operating from behind the scenes, taking advantage of her poor health.

While the working presidents wrote to Chacko that the decision was not taken in consultation with them, many senior leaders objected to what they described as an “undemocratic” move and supported the agitated block presidents.

Sources said the powerful trio of Maken, Arvinder Singh and Naseeb Singh were countering Sheila Dikshit’s attempt to establish her son Sandeep Dikshit in Delhi politics.

Former MLA and one-time Sheila Dikshit loyalist Naseeb Singh took the lead to call a meeting to discuss the counter-moves and 29 senior leaders attended it. This group enjoys the blessings of former state party president J.P. Agarwal and the three working presidents — Rajesh Lilothia, Haroon Yusuf and Devender Yadav.

Ironically, all these leaders have trained in politics under Sheila Dikshit and grew as her staunch loyalists during her three terms as Delhi chief minister. Now they are all opposed to Sandeep Dikshit and have decided to revolt.

A leader told The Telegraph: “Sheilaji is in poor health. Three persons — Sandeep Dikshit, her former private secretary Pawan Khera and her daughter Latika — are taking decisions. We are not going to allow this, come what may.”

These leaders privately say that Rahul Gandhi had committed a blunder by reappointing Sheila Dikshit as the Delhi Congress president and that he would have to reverse the decision to save the party.

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