National

Scepticism over Rahul’s leadership qualities: Sheila Dikshit

Former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has said there was “scepticism” over Rahul Gandhi’s leadership qualities and pitched for continuance of Sonia Gandhi at the helm. File photo  

more-in

Congress veteran says party could rely on Sonia Gandhi’s “overpowering and very successful” leadership for revival.

Former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Tuesday said there was “scepticism” over Rahul Gandhi’s leadership qualities and pitched for continuance of Sonia Gandhi at the helm.

The 77-year-old Congress veteran said under Ms. Sonia Gandhi there was a “comfort feeling” and that the party could rely on the incumbent president’s “overpowering and very successful” leadership for its revival.

“I will not be able to give any idea what will happen or what will not happen. He (Mr. Rahul Gandhi) could succeed. There is another point we must understand that the overpowering and very successful leadership of Mrs Sonia Gandhi is there. So there is a comfort feeling with her,” Ms. Dikshit told PTI in an interview.

Ms. Sheila Dikshit said Mr. Rahul Gandhi’s leadership qualities have not been fully tested yet and it would be good for the party if Sonia continues to lead it.

“I am yet to meet anybody who has any critical remarks to make about the leadership of Sonia Gandhi. I can say it with absolute confidence. Whereas (in case of) Rahul, of course, there is a question mark, there is scepticism because you have not seen him perform as yet,” Ms. Sheila Dikshit said.

Ms. Sheila Dikshit’s comments have come at a time when Congress appears divided on whether to anoint Mr. Rahul Gandhi as president replacing his mother. Senior party leaders >Amarinder Singh and >Ms. Sheila Dikshit’s son Sandeep had come out strongly against Mr. Rahul Gandhi’s elevation.

Mr. Sandeep Dikshit had earlier this month said that Ms. Sonia Gandhi was the “leader” for “99 per cent of partymen” and she was needed at the helm now more than ever. Mr. Singh had said Ms. Sonia Gandhi should “retain” Congress presidentship and a generational change cannot be done “with a knife”.

‘Too early to judge Rahul’s credentials’

Ms. Sheila Dikshit said, “There is a comfort feeling with Sonia Gandhi as she has done things which we would not have expected. She never accepted PM’s post yet she made Congress win twice in general elections. So, that comfort feeling is there with her. She is a confident leader whom Congress can rely upon.”

“That comfort feeling has yet to develop where Rahul is concerned,” Ms. Sheila Dikshit said, adding it was too early to judge his leadership credentials.

Asked whether the party should accept if Ms. Sonia Gandhi decides to step down, Ms. Sheila Dikshit said it was for her to take a call.

“She is not one of those who runs away from responsibility. I do not think she is the kind who does that.

And when it comes to the survival of the Congress or the ideology of the Congress she is always there,” she said.

Asked whether Mr. Rahul Gandhi will be able to steer the party if made president, Ms. Sheila Dikshit said it was too early to comment.

“It’s a question of the future. How he does, what he does... When you get full responsibility, you may come out with a different colour,” said Ms. Sheila Dikshit.

On opposition’s criticism of Mr. Rahul Gandhi over his nearly two-month-long sabbatical, Ms. Sheila Dikshit said it was a “non-issue”.

“I do not give too much importance to it. Mrs Gandhi is the president and, in the last three or four weeks or so, she has once again shown her mettle… her concern for things that matter to India like (protecting) the interest of the farmers and price rise.”

Expressing confidence about the Congress’ revival, the former Delhi Chief Minister cited examples of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, who led the party back to power after electoral debacles.

“I have no doubt that it will revive. We have time on our side now. We have four years comfortably and the Congress will introspect. It is in the process of doing so. It will do more. This is not for the first time in the country that the intellectuals felt that Congress is over.

“Don’t think that if you lose an election once, you lost it forever or if you won an election, you won it forever. So, there are these moments that happen and it’s part of history and part of democracy,” she said.

Ms. Sheila Dikshit suggested revamping the AICC and called for young leaders like Jyotiraditya Scindia and Jitin Prasada being given more prominent roles.

“I think that the AICC needs to be revamped and a new impetus given to its structure. For instance, some people have been there for decades and decades. We need to bring new blood. We should bring them in and train for the future,” she said.

Ms. Sheila Dikshit said the party should bring “change” which will be “refreshing”.

“We do need to have change in our thoughts and bring fresh blood. The fire in the belly has to come,” she said.

Asked about the demand by a section in the Congress to give Priyanka Gandhi a prominent role, Ms. Sheila Dikshit said it can be decided by the party leadership and the Gandhi family.

“This is something which has to be done very carefully and Mrs Gandhi is known to be a person who treads very carefully and in a very sophisticated and careful way, (she) measures everything. I have the fullest faith in her. Whatever she does, the party will follow,” she said.

The former Delhi Chief Minister said she was ready to play any role in the party but insisted she was not seeking any position.

Please Wait while comments are loading...
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Oct 19, 2017 9:18:51 AM | http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sheila-dikshit-says-scepticism-over-rahul-gandhis-leadership-qualities/article7102114.ece