Sheila Dikshit, 3-Time Chief Minister, Appointed Delhi Congress Chief

Sheila Dikshit's induction at the helm of Delhi Congress is seen as a signal of the party's seriousness about its prospective alliance with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party.

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Sheila Dikshit was Delhi's chief minister from 1998 to 2013.


New Delhi: 

With just months to go for the national election, the Congress on Thursday brought back three-time Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit at the helm of the party's Delhi unit. Ajay Maken, who had the job, was eased out last week -- sources said he was promised a prominent role at the party's frontlines.

Ahead of the formal announcement by the party, Ajay Maken, whose public rivalry with Ms Dikshit made headlines three years ago, tweeted: "Congratulations to Sheila Dikshit for being appointed as the state Congress chief again. I got the chance to work and learn under her as parliamentary secretary and cabinet minister. I have full confidence that under her leadership, we will play the role of a formidable opposition against PM Modi's and Arvind Kejriwal governments".

Over the last five years, the Congress had been a "formidable foe" to the Aam Aadmi Party under the leadership of Mr Maken. But Ms Dikshit's induction at the helm of Delhi Congress is seen as a signal of the party's seriousness about its prospective alliance with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party.

Mr Kejriwal -- who was at loggerheads with the Congress after their partnership ended with his 49-day tenure as Chief Minister in 2013 -- has also been co-opted into the proposed Grand Alliance against the BJP. Its interlocuter Chandrababu Naidu and DMK chief MK Stalin have persuaded him to drop the "negative stance" against the Congress.

Last month, Mr Kejriwal said it is the "responsibility of every patriotic citizen of the country to defeat the (Narendra Modi-Amit Shah) team, and to do that, we will take all the measures that we can".

For Ms Dikshit, her comment on the prospective partnership had marked a fresh stance that took the big picture into account and helped catapult her to the pole position in the race for the party's top job in Delhi. Asked about the alliance, Ms Dikshit had said the "high command, Rahul Gandhi and all will decide and whatever they decide will be acceptable to all of us".

The selection of the 80-year-old -- one of the most popular and the longest serving Chief Ministers of Delhi who led the government from 1998 to 2013 - is also is in line with the Congress's reliance on tried and tested leaders in the states.

After capturing power in three heartland states in the recent round of assembly elections, Rahul Gandhi had picked veteran leaders Ashok Gehlot and Kamal Nath for the Chief Minister's post in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.



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