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Sheila Dikshit as UP CM face: 5 reasons why Congress has aced it

Panini Anand | Updated on: 15 July 2016, 17:21 IST

It\'s official now. Sheila Dikshit will be the face of the Congress party in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections next year.

The Congress\'s UP in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad made the announcement on Thursday evening. This comes at a time when there was speculation that Priyanka Gandhi would be the party\'s face in the state.

Dikshit is 78 and was the chief minister of Delhi for 15 years.

Many would ask why the Congress has chosen an aged leader, that too one facing allegations of graft related to the Commonwealth Games. But politically, it seems the Grand Old Party has done the right thing for once. Here are five reasons why.

01
Brahmin card

Sheila Dikshit as the Congress' CM face is bad news for the BJP. Upper Castes are the BJP's core vote base. Dikshit is a Brahmin and Uttar Pradesh is her sasural. By nominating her, the Congress is trying to woo back its traditional Brahmin vote bank.

BJP has so far played the Rajput card through Rajnath Singh and OBC card by making Keshav Maurya the UP unit chief. Brahmins, it seems, were taken for granted.

The community isn't very happy with the BJP. They believe the party hasn't given them the space they deserve. Even when in power, the BJP chose an OBC (Kalyan Singh), a Rajput (Rajnath Singh) and a bania (Ramprakash Gupta) as its CMs in UP.

UP hasn't seen a Brahmin CM since ND Tiwari's term in 1988-89. This has hurt the community and Sheila;s nomination could lead to a shift of some votes from BJP to the Congress.

02
Efficient governance

Sheila Dikshit had a good tenure as the chief minister of Delhi. Those who have lived in the city, bear testimony to the work that was done during her rule. It is for this reason that the people of Delhi gave her three terms as CM.

Despite the corruption charges against her, she has the image of a leader who gets work done. Congress will showcase this to the hilt, especially with strategist Prashant Kishor handling the campaign.

As far as the corruption charges are concerned, Congress is already handling it by going on the offensive.

"There are charges against sitting CMs of BJP ruled states including Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh. There should be inquiries into those cases," Azad said

And with BSP and SP also seen as corrupt, the charges against Dikshit might not be an issue in UP.

03
The better half

Being a woman is another plus point. Other than BSP supremo Mayawati, no other party has given women such a prominent position in UP. Dimple Yadav of SP and Smriti Irani of the BJP are campaigners but they are not going to be the main face of the party.

In Bihar, women played a key role in Nitish Kumar's victory. Dikshit, who is a 'bahu' of UP', has the potential of connecting to the women in the state.

In fact, from Sonia Gandhi to Sheila Dikshit, women seem to call the shots in the Congress, unlike the SP and BJP.

04
Nothing to lose

With just 28 seats in the Assembly and 2 MPs from Uttar Pradesh, the Congress has nothing to lose in the state. The party is only likely to better its performance. Even if Dikshit doesn't succeed, the loss would be her's and not the party's.

Even for Dikshit, this comeback has come as a bonus as her career was all but over with her ignominious defeat in Delhi in 2013. Her willingness to take up a challenge at this age would endear her to the Gandhi family a great deal.

The only loser in the eventuality of an electoral debacle in UP would be Prashant Kishor.

05
After the polls

Sheila Dikshit is not among those who would create trouble for the party after the polls. She will go with the line given by the top leadership and not try to bargain or rebel. Her stature is bigger than most leaders of the party in the state. This will also help her control in the UP Congress.

The biggest thing Sheila would do is to dent the BJP's calculations. This means that even if Congress doesn't achieve much, the BJP going to lose significantly due to her presence and role.

However, the announcement of Dikshit's candidature means that a pre-poll alliance with BSP or SP is ruled out. But a good performance could open up the possibility of a post poll alliance.

Edited by Aditya Menon

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First published: 15 July 2016, 17:21 IST
 
Panini Anand @paninianand

Senior Assistant Editor at Catch, Panini is a poet, singer, cook, painter, commentator, traveller and photographer who has worked as reporter, producer and editor for organizations including BBC, Outlook and Rajya Sabha TV. An IIMC-New Delhi alumni who comes from Rae Bareli of UP, Panini is fond of the Ghats of Varanasi, Hindustani classical music, Awadhi biryani, Bob Marley and Pink Floyd, political talks and heritage walks. He has closely observed the mainstream national political parties, the Hindi belt politics along with many mass movements and campaigns in last two decades. He has experimented with many mass mediums: theatre, street plays and slum-based tabloids, wallpapers to online, TV, radio, photography and print.

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