Sheila Dikshit, the three-time Delhi chief minister who took over as the party’s Delhi unit chief recently, has ruled out an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), saying the Congress was capable of fighting elections on its own.
Criticising the Arvind Kejriwal-led party over the resolution introduced to withdraw the Bharat Ratna given to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Dikshit said: “There is no question of aligning with them after what they have done. I have always had the opinion that the Congress must stay away and fight on its own. We can do it and it’s not difficult. We just have to be together and fight.”
She added, “The AAP is not something we have to worry about. It’s a political party that is confined to Delhi. Where is its presence in other states? Where is it in Gujarat or Rajasthan? It’s a small party and will come and go,” she said.
Dikshit, while responding to a question on the need for a ‘mahagathbandhan’ to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, said there were no fears that the Congress would be wiped out.
“Come and spend a day with me. The Congress cannot be ignored. Regional parties are not getting powerful. Just because they won seats, doesn’t mean they are powerful and just because we lost elections, doesn’t mean we are finished,” Dikshit said.
Dismissing reports that regional satraps such as the BSP and the SP did not trust the grand old party and had thus snubbed it in the pre-poll alliance, Dikshit said, “What do you mean they don’t trust the party? I would just like to say one thing. The development you see in India today, what you see around you, is because of the Congress. Who else has been here? The BJP has come now.”
The new chief also rubbished the BJP wave, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi or the saffron party were not invincible. “I don’t think he is invincible. It’s only in the media. Many are not allowed to say anything openly which is why people are not saying it. But he is certainly not the kind of leader we should have.” She added that the Congress would “certainly try” to defeat Modi but “it’s up to the high command to decide what has to be done and what doesn’t have to be done”.
When asked if she felt “used” by the Congress, which dumped her after making her the CM face in UP, Dikshit said if the party felt she was capable for a role, she would never refuse it. Refusing to comment on whether the party should have appointed her earlier, she said Ajay Maken was at the helm of affairs and thus the decision could not be taken then.
Dikshit said criticism stemming from the fact that the Congress always spoke of youth power but Rahul Gandhi banked on old warhorses was not justified as all that mattered in a democracy was victory. “One shouldn’t do anything illegal but this is fine. Youth are there. Rahul represents the youth,” she said. Dikshit also said as a Congress leader, she would like to see Gandhi as the prime minister.
Defending her party against jibes over the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, she said the mention of Jagdish Tytler and Kamal Nath was brought up by the media as well as the BJP but it was no longer an issue. “How does it matter to us what the BJP says about who was invited to a function. We decide who we should call and invite. The issue is done with. We have won three elections after that and some want to take it up again and again thinking it will work. But it won’t.”
On allegations that the Congress cornering the government on the issue of corruption in the Rafale deal was ironic, considering the charges against the party, Dikshit asked why only the party should be questioned. “Just because we keep getting elected, means everyone can attack us? Others have nothing to answer for? What about Bofors? Nothing emerged from there. Why is only the Congress attacked and others don’t give answers?”