New Delhi: Sheila Dikhit, former Delhi chief minister, will today meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and deputy Rahul Gandhi, amid buzz that she could be fielded by the party as its chief ministerial candidate in Uttar Pradesh, where elections will be held early next year.
Top Congress sources told NDTV that the party is closing in on Ms Dikshit, 78, as a possible candidate for chief minister in the key state, with Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Sonia Gandhi’s daughter, leading the campaign.
For long downgraded to number four in UP behind the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the BJP, the Congress has launched an energetic bid to stage a comeback in the assembly elections.
To script its campaign it has engaged election strategist Prashant Kishor, who has suggested that the party field a Brahmin candidate for chief minister. Sheila Dikshit fits that bill.
The party leadership reckons that Ms Dikshit record of development in Delhi as a three-term chief minister will overwhelm charges of corruption against her.
Also that her old family ties to Uttar Pradesh will stand her in good stead – Ms Dikshit’s father-in-law Uma Shankar Dikshit was a prominent Congressman from UP and served as a central minister and also as a Governor.
Prashant Kishor, who is said to have earlier met Ms Dikshit to discuss a role in UP, had reportedly suggested that the Congress name either Rahul or Priyanka Gandhi as its presumptive Chief Minister for the state, but the party vetoed that proposal.
Priyanka Gandhi has so far confined herself to campaigning in Rae Bareli and Amethi, the Parliamentary constituencies of her mother and brother, but senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said there is an “overwhelming demand” that she should campaign this time in other parts of the state too.
The Congress currently has 30 members in the 404-seat UP assembly and had won only two Parliament seats in the 2014 national election – those of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.