Sheila Dikshit on Whether Kejriwal is the Right Choice for Delhi

“Underestimated Arvind Kejriwal earlier, overestimating him now,” says Sheila Dikshit as Delhi’s AAP govt turns 3.

2 min read

(This is an excerpt from Sheila Dikshit’s latest conversation with The Quint)

Former Chief Minister of Delhi Sheila Dikshit is not the one to shy from accepting her mistakes. In a candid conversation with this writer,, she elaborated on her famous “Because we are fools” snap after quitting as Delhi CM. Dikshit counts losing the election her biggest regret.

My biggest regret is that we lost the last election without being able to understand its implication. The implication of Mr Kejriwal and his speeches. We all thought that he was like any other politician who wouldn’t make any kind of promises that you cannot fulfill. So that was one mistake.

The three-time CM of Delhi has a quick observation about the current CM’s constant lament about powerlessness. Delhi’s limited statehood makes it a unique case study in terms of governance. Kejriwal promised a lot to the Delhiwallas without being candid about certain realities.

What the current government isn’t understanding or not making other people understand is that constitutionally Delhi doesn’t have the police under it. Delhi doesn’t have the land under it.

Acceptance is a rare virtue and Dikshit certainly can claim to be one blessed with it. She takes pride in working within the constitutional limits and grabbed each opportunity to bring change in Delhi. She says that AAP’s promises need to be scrutinised.

I think what Kejriwal is saying others are not able to contradict. That you don’t have this under you, you cannot do anything about it. Unless you change the Constitution. And the Constitution can only be amended by the Lok Sabha and the Parliament of India.

In her recent biography ‘Citizen Delhi’, Dikshit recalls Kejriwal’s campaign against her government equating it with the campaign against the Bofors issue during Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure as the PM.

As a party we were unable to launch a campaign that could take those allegations head-on. In a way, the time was quite similar to the paralysis that characterised our party years later during the UPA2 tenure, when the opposition ran away with the 2G story, or when Arvind Kejriwal built up a huge campaign centred on my government’s alleged acts of corruption.   

As a former CM, Dikshit also has some concerns with respect to Delhi which the current government may look into. And her emphasis, again, is on her famous pet peeve, migration.

Delhi is an ever growing city. There are no full stops in Delhi that we have built 500 schools, we don’t need any more. It never happens here because the migration into the city of Delhi goes on all the time. Not only is there migration but all these areas like Gurgaon and even upto Meerut people come to work here. And when they come to work here they naturally use transport and water and electricity. So I personally feel that, and I repeat, there are no full stops in Delhi. It needs constant reviewing and constant change. 

Can Kejriwal deliver in the rest of his tenure?

Dikshit is blunt as ever when she says: “We underestimated him (earlier) but now we are overestimating him.”

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