Sheila Dikshit hints at returning to active politics

Sheila-Dikshit-interviewFormer Delhi Chief Minister and veteran Congress leader Sheila Dikshit spoke to Rajya Sabha TV in an exclusive interview about re-entering active politics.

Even as speculation is rife that she’s likely to be the Chief Ministerial candidate for the Congress in Uttar Pradesh, Dikshit says she’s ready for any role the party has in mind for her. She also says Ghulam Nabi Azad being made in-charge of UP for the upcoming polls was a good thing.

She speaks about Rahul Gandhi’s imminent elevation and responds to a question on Priyanka Gandhi by saying her entry into political arena is matter of the Gandhi family.

When asked about the Centre’s performance in the last two years, she says the Modi government only indulges in ‘Mann ki baat’ and there’s little action on the ground.

She also slams Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s way of governance and says ruling Delhi was never an easy job.

Here are some edited excerpts from the interview:

In the upcoming polls in Uttar Pradesh, some are saying you will be playing a very active role. Is that true? How do you rate the performances of the parties?

Look, I am one of those soldiers of my party that I will do whatever I am asked to do. And I don’t do what I’m not asked to do. These are conjectures of the media.

Do you think you’ll take up the job if such a situation arises?

It’s not a matter of liking it or not liking it. It’s a matter of serving the party where ever it asks me to. The decision makers have to decide that.

So, how is the Congress party looking at Uttar Pradesh?

I think Ghulam Nabi Azad’s appointment there has been a great booster. There is new a kind of enthusiasm. So let us see how it works.

Azad has said that the Congress will decide on the CM face very soon?

Exactly, so let them and him decide. Let us see what the people and the party workers of UP feel. The decision will be taken on his advice by the party high command.

What about alliance options in Uttar Pradesh? Are you exploring those?

At this point, all of this is a conjecture. Let it happen. The BJP, Congress, the BSP and the SP are all present in UP. Let us see what the outcome of the election is. As of today, there is also this feeling that no party will get a complete majority. For the Samajwadi party, the law and order has been very poor. For the BSP – people do have some good memories but not all good memories. The BJP doesn’t have a leader and the Congress hasn’t yet finalised its strategy and the way ahead.

Are you hinting at any alliance that can happen?

Yes, obviously. If no party will get a full majority in the elections, there are bound to be the alliances, which we’ll have to work out.

Going back to the question on faces… Priyanka Gandhi’s name keeps coming up, especially during Uttar Pradesh polls.

What Priyanka does or what Rahul does this is the family matter of the Gandhis.

Is it not the party matter?

Priyanka is not a member of the party. She does work for her mother’s and brother’s constituency and she has deliberately confined herself to that. There is a demand for her, no doubt about it, but it’s for the family to take a call.

There are conjectures that anytime soon, Rahul will take over as the President of the party?

Eventually he has to take over. The timing of when that happens has to be decided by Mrs Gandhi and the CWC. It also depends on the political ambience at that point in time. Political decision are taken when they are ought to be taken.

After the state election results, many believe that the party really needs to energise itself…

Yes, of course. We all believe that. That is why Ghulam Nabi Azad has been sent there. And it’s the beginning of things that will follow.

Do you think the party needs urgent restructuring?

Changes are required. We’ve had this kind of setup for the past decade. Everyone needs to reinvent themselves. We have the fullest faith in Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s sagacity to take decisions at the right time, we’ll wait for that. She’s aware of the situation and has been spoken to by a lot of people about this. So, let her take her decision.

How do you think the government at the Centre is performing?

I would say it’s glib-talking but the feeling of good governance which a citizens feels, has not yet come.

Our former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh did not talk much and here we have a Prime Minister in Narendra Modi who talks and communicates and does ‘Mann ki baat’ ?

Everybody has different style. Dr Manmohan Singh did more work and less talk. Here it is more talk and less work….Even in Mann ki Baat no one talks of prices which is hurting every family in India.

What about social harmony?

Anyone says what they like. We are all Indians first, everything else should come later. The feeling that is increasingly being felt is, that I’m an Indian later and the religion I follow comes first.

Finally, do you think the Congress needs a real big rethink on how it should go ahead?

The Congress has always reinvented itself – from Nehru, to Indira to Rajiv. One has to continuously go on. Times change and if thoughts don’t change with the time, then one can’t grow. The reason why the Congress has ruled so long, is that it has always adjusted itself to the requirements of the times.