Out of oblivion… Sheila to chariot Cong’s fight in UP

Rajat Kain

File Photo ( PTI )

File Photo ( PTI )

Call it Pandora’s Box or the casket of curiosity, Congress party has named Sheila Dikshit as its chief ministerial candidate in its mission to win, or even give a contest to look out for in, Uttar Pradesh. After announcing the composition of its frontal organisation earlier this week, the party was tipped to name its CM candidate on Thursday.

Making an announcement, senior leader in-charge of UP, Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “Sheila ji is chosen for her experience and good work.”

The party, which currently lies in the tatters and worst, on the fringes, in the politics of UP was perhaps aware that further delay may only help in giving fatigue a leeway to set-in. Once that happens, even a strong face may not be good enough.

Prior to her being named, there were reports indicating reluctance on Sheila Diskhit’s part to take the mantle of a very very uphill challenge. Especially, when the party has secured less than 30 seats in last three assembly polls and could manage to win only the family pocket-boroughs of Amethi and Rae Bareilly.

After will-she, she-will-not, may-be-not, yes-may-be and other equivalent phrases pickling speculation, the three-time Chief Minister of Delhi was finally asked to chariot the task for her party. Soon after the announcement was made at the party headquarters, Sheila Dikshit thanked the Congress “high command” for entrusting her with the responsibility.

While, she had kept away from the dust and grind of electoral battle after December 2013, in an exclusive interview to Rajya Sabha TV, Sheila Dikshit had hinted an active return to politics.

Congress---Sonia-Rahul-PriyankaUttar Pradesh votes early next year and Congress is extremely keen to perform well in the state so as it earn a political worth for itself, which it has so badly jeopardised after 2014 Lok Sabha performance and string of defeats in Assembly polls following the big one.

While the party is demanding active ‘participation’ of Priyanka Gandhi, — the last of the aces held firm by the party believed to be on a terminal decline — there is no formal word on her role. According to party insiders, Priyanka Gandhi may be seen actively campaigning across the swathe of UP, considerable if not large.

Coming back to the Sheila Dikshit… the 78-year-old is moulded by her party’s election managers as somebody with a proven track record and an able administrator. Prior to slipping into an oblivion, the party heavyweight ruled Delhi for the three consecutive terms and got the Congress party back in assembly polls with a thumping majority twice – 2003 and 2008.

It was only in 2013, when a popular wave in favour of Arvind Kejriwal brand of politics and anger against the Congress-led UPA, Dikshit lost the ground and perhaps even willingness, given the scale of defeat. She has, however, hinted a return back to active politics, beyond mere optics of her name being propped as her party’s face in polls to India’s most populous state.

Earlier this week, Congress announced actor-turned politician Raj Babbar as their state organisation chief. The party also appointed four senior vice presidents to its state unit — Rajaram Pal, Rajesh Mishra, Bhagwati Prasad Chaudhary, and Imran Masood.