Sheila Dikshit dares AAP to announce byelection

NEW DELHI: Challenging the AAP to face the electorate after 20 of its MLAs were disqualified recently, former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit has asserted that the Congress would make gains if bypolls took place as there was an ‘absence of credibility’ with the Kejriwal government.

Ms Dikshit, Delhi’s longest serving chief minister, alleged that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was trying to ‘avoid’ bypolls as it had not delivered on its promises.

Stating that the AAP was trying to avoid elections, she told a news agency had the party been confident of winning bypolls it would not have challenged the disqualification of its 20 MLAs.

Attacking the AAP over disqualification of 20 of its MLAs for holding offices of profit, Ms Dikshit said that if the party believes it can break rules and get away with it, it is living under a ‘fallacy’.She said: “The court has decided and the President of India has endorsed that decision, so it is for them (the AAP) to see what they want to do. Face an election. When you do something like this, you should have thought of the consequences also,” the 79-year-old leader, who ruled Delhi for 15 consecutive years from 1998, said. “The AAP was not being victimised, but being punished for what it did wrong.”

Ms Dikshit asserted that the bypolls would be a ‘referendum’ on the AAP government’s performance as it might not be able to win these seats. Asked if the bypolls would give the Congress a chance to gain a foothold in Delhi, she said,  “Yes, I think definitely and I am sure that when it happens, we certainly will improve our position.”

Her comments have gained significance as she had not campaigned for the Congress in the last Assembly polls, in which the party did not open its account in any of the 70 constituencies. Insiders say she wasn’t happy over the way Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken was running the party.

Ms Dikshit had surprised one and all when she recently made an appearance at the party headquarters on Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg when party chief spokesperson and daughter of former President Pranab Mukherjee, Sharmishtha Mukherjee, took over as the head of the local women unit. The day also coincided with Mr Maken’s birthday. The last time that she had visited the headquarters was in March 2015 when Mr Maken took charge of the Congress local unit.