Sheila Dikshit will lead Congress’s campaign in Uttar Pradesh elections

78-year old former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit will lead Congress’s campaign in Uttar Pradesh in 2017.By doing so, she has perhaps become the first political leader in independent India who has the honour of being declared the chief ministerial candidate of a state bigger in any way comparable than the city-state Delhi that she ruled for three full terms — be it size, or the political, social and economic complexities.The distinction is also unique in the sense that she has been declared the chief ministerial candidate of a state as politically crucial as UP when only two years ago she couldn’t even manage to win from her own constituency, and ultimately landed the party in a hopeless situation, whereby it scored zeroes in both in the assembly and Parliamentary elections.

In between, she had briefly been the governor of Kerala, a reward for her unstinted loyalty to the Nehru-Gandhi family.Irrespective of the final outcome of the UP polls, due in the next six months, it’s time for outsourced Janata Dal-United poll strategist Prashant Kishor to cheer. He has made Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi do what the Congress never does — declare its chief ministerial candidate ahead of the polls.

On her part, Dikshit thanked the “party high command” and claimed to work towards winning over a faction-ridden state party unit; she admitted that UP will be a big challenge for her and the Congress. She is also naturally enthusiastic about possibility of Priyanka Gandhi campaigning for the party throughout the state.Talking to CNN-News 18, she had said, “Priyanka Gandhi is popular among the people. Her being here will add marks to the Party and I am sure she will come.”Indeed, naming Dikshit, a Khatri from Punjab, the daughter-in-law of erstwhile Brahmin leader Uma Shankar Dikshit, is interesting. Firstly, it comes two days after the BJP enforced its 75-year retirement age rule on two union ministers, Najma Heptulla and GM Siddeshwara and made them tender their resignations.

10 reasons why Congress chose Sheila Dikshit as UP CM candidate

  1. It was a carefully planned act strategised at the very top.
  2. First Madhusudan Mistry was replaced to bring in Ghulam Nabi Azad as the new UP Congress in charge. Azad convinced Sheila to become the party’s face in UP.
  3. Sheila Dikshit held meetings with Congress President and if sources are to be believed her candidature had the full backing of both Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi.
  4. Dikshit was the choice of Congress strategist Prashant Kishor, who helped script victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the general elections and then engineered Nitish Kumar’s win in battle for Bihar.
  5. Sheila Dikshit’s caste also went in her favour. Her marriage into a reputed Brahmin family in Uttar Pradesh will help lure back upper caste voters once loyal to the Congress.
  6. Her stint in politics started with UP. Congress had swept the 1984 elections riding on the ‘Indira wave’ and Sheila Dikshit won the Kannauj parliamentary seat.
  7. Her appointment is not expected to cause heartburn among state cadre as she has no peers in the state.
  8. An additional benefit for Congress is that Ajay Maken, the Delhi Congress chief, gets a free hand in Delhi with Dikshit away in Lucknow.
  9. The Congress felt that 15 years of development in Delhi under Sheila can be used as one of the main agendas in the poll campaign.
  10. Sheila Dikshit has behind her an impressive electoral record, having led the party to three consecutive electoral victories in Delhi.

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