‘There can’t be two chief ministerial candidates and I wanted to avoid an awkward situation for the Congress party that’s the reason I opted out,’ says senior Congress leader and former chief minister of Delhi Sheila Dikshit.
Dikshit who was projected as the Chief Ministerial face of Congress in Uttar Pradesh explicitly said that she did not want to embarrass the party and that is precisely why she has accepted Akhilesh Yadav.
The veteran Congress leader said that she knew about the alliance talks between Congress and Samajwadi party but there was no discussion within the party on her opting out.
Having said that, Dikshit also acknowledges that politics is never static and is always evolving.
Optimistic about the victory of the Congress and Samajwadi party alliance, the former chief minister of Delhi said that they will comfortably form government in Uttar Pradesh.
Dismissing reports about Congress playing a second fiddle to the Samajwadi party and the Akhilesh factor being more dominant than the Rahul factor, Dikshit said that Rahul was not contesting and he was bringing a national flavour to elections since Akhilesh is the face of the alliance.
Training guns on the Aam Admi Party in Delhi, Dikshit said that Arvind Kejriwal was being unfair to Delhi. She said despite the huge mandate they got, Delhi was suffering because of the political ambitions of Arvind Kejriwal.
Here are some edited excerpts of the interview given to Rajya Sabha TV Anchor Neelu Vyas
Q: You were first projected as the Chief Ministerial face of Congress and then you opted out, is it not embarrassing for a senior leader like you?
Ans: I opted out to avoid an awkward situation, I left for the younger brigade. We cannot have two CM candidates. Never wanted to embarrass my party. Politics is not static, it keeps changing
Q: Were you in the loop when alliance talks were on, and was there a discussion within the party about your exit?
Ans: I knew of Congress-SP alliance talks, I took the UP offer reluctantly but I am not sulking. I am confident of Congress-SP alliance victory.
Q: Till two months ago your party saw SP as the rival and now you are holding hands with the same party?
Ans: Holding hands with SP is no crime. Politics is fluid, every day situations change.
Q: On both sides of SP and Congress there are rebels which might dent the prospects?
Ans: Teh number of rebels have come down. BJP is facing a rebellion, not the Congress. Samajwadi Party and the Congress is working in harmony.
Q: People say that the grand old party is playing the second fiddle to SP?
Ans: We are not playing second fiddle to SP. We chose the right option. Our focus is development.
Q: But don’t you see this as a beginning for the bigger battle for 2019 where people say Akhilesh will become the face not Rahul Gandhi?
Ans: It’s too early to predict 2019. First we will form government in Uttar Pradesh.
Q: What do you have to say about two years of governance of Arvind Kejriwal?
Ans: Governance in Delhi has deteriorated. Education standards have slipped in Delhi. AAP has been unfair to Delhi and it is true that Delhi is suffering because of AAP.