Former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit and her protege-turned-bete noire state Congress president Ajay Maken are all set to make a joint appearance to launch a united attack on the Arvind Kejriwal-led government, which completes three years in office on Wednesday.
Dikshit and Maken will together release a booklet, listing the 'failures' of the Kejriwal government at an event organised by the Delhi Congress. The idea behind bringing the veteran leader back into the frame to attack the AAP government is the growing feeling within the Congress that it will have to fall back on the legacy of Dikshit years as it attempts to reclaim political space in Delhi.
The effort will be to draw a contrast between the work that happened in Delhi during the 15 years that Dikshit led a Congress government in the national capital, and the perception of the Kejriwal dispensation being busy with fire-fighting as it bounces from one controversy to another.
With bypolls looming large in 20 assembly constituencies on account of disqualification of as many MLAs of the AAP from the state assembly, the Congress is keen on reminding the people of Delhi about the “sense of stability” and “development” that marked the Dikshit government.
However, getting Dikshit, who has been sidelined from Delhi politics ever since the Congress was wiped out in the AAP wave in the assembly elections and Maken took over as PCC chief, on board for the united onslaught on Kejriwal was not easy.
According to party sources, Congress president Rahul Gandhi was keen that the two leaders make a united appearance, especially since the bypolls provide the party with an opportunity to make a comeback into the politics of Delhi. At present, the party has no MLA in the assembly. It has had little to cheer electorally since the 2014 debacle, and it met with an embarrassing defeat in the municipal elections in 2017.
It is learnt that Dikshit, at first, did not respond to Maken's requests for a meeting. She met Maken only after Delhi Congress leader Sharmistha Mukherjee is said to have intervened in the issue. According to sources, she agreed only after she got the assurance that her supporters in Delhi Congress, who are out in the cold, are rehabilitated in the PCC.
In the run-up to the third anniversary of the Kejriwal government on February 14, Delhi Congress has prominently showcased the erstwhile Cabinet of Dikshit, with leaders who were ministers in her regime, such as Yogendra Shastri, Haroon Yusuf and A K Walia, holding press conferences to attack the AAP dispensation.