Has Sheila Dikshit Finished Her Political Career?
Sheila Dikshit lost to sitting BJP MP Manoj Tiwari at North East Delhi seat.
Yes. It looks like it’s the end of her political career.
Sheila Dikshit, 81, made her last attempt in the 2019 general elections hoping to win the North East Delhi seat. She was trumped by sitting BJP MP Manoj Tiwari by 3,66,102 votes, and also lost her last opportunity for making a comeback.
What went wrong for Sheila Dikshit?
Simply put, the Modi wave proved too much for the three-time chief minister of Delhi. In all fairness, Sheila Dikshit is still a popular leader among the people of Delhi. They remember her transformational infrastructure initiatives, including a world-class metro system, a world-class international airport, and a series of flyovers, all of which improved the lives and experience of the citizens of Delhi and visitors alike.
People did reward her with three-consecutive terms as chief minister, a record for Delhi. However, anti-incumbency caught up with her in 2013 when her party lost power winning only 8 of the 70 assembly seats.
Bhojpuri film actor and singer Manoj Tiwari contested the 2009 general elections on an SP ticket from Gorakhpur, U.P. He lost that election to the then sitting MP Yogi Adityanath. He later switched over to the BJP, and in 2014 general elections, contested the North East Delhi seat on a BJP ticket. He defeated Prof Anand Kumar (AAP) by 2,22,243 votes. During his term as MP, Manoj Tiwari has done good work in his constituency, cultivating a wide base of supporters from all communities.
In 2019, Sheila Dikshit’s entry into the race had BJP worried. Ms. Dikshit was a strong contender with an excellent track record of administration and performance. Moreover, she continued to have love and support of people in many pockets. In the absence of a dedicated network of party workers at the grassroots, she banked on her previous record to win back supporters.
Had PM Modi’s towering presence not been a major factor in these elections, she may have put up a better performance. To her credit, she did win 4,21,697 votes representing a 28.85 percent vote share.
Delhi’s demographics favoured Manoj Tiwari
North East Delhi Lok Sabha constituency comprises 10 assembly segments: Burari, Timarpur, Seemapuri, Rohtas Nagar, Seelampur, Ghonda, Babarpur, Gokalpur, Mustafabad, and Karawal Nagar.
These areas have a large number of migrants from neighbouring states of U.P, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and Bihar.
In 2014, BJP chose him for his popularity as a Bhojpuri actor and singer among the Hindi speaking people of Delhi. He was a known face, and people connected easily with him. His popularity and BJP’s Hindutva-based ideology were a winning combination giving him an advantage.
As per 2011 Census, the population in the region stood at 22.40 lakh. The religion-wise break-up is: 15.29 lakh Hindu – 68.22%; 6.57 lakh Muslims – 29.34%); 24,000 Jain – 1.10%; 17,000 Sikh (0.78%); 9,000 Christian – (0.41%); 2,000 Buddhist – (0.11%).
A large part of this population is Hindi speaking and familiar with Manoj Tiwari. BJP’s traditional vote base comes from the Hindu community, and a large section of these are BJP supporters. It was yet another advantage for Manoj Tiwari.
Tiwari hails from Kaimur, part of Bhabua district in Bihar. Kaimur is part of the Purvanchal region. And a significant number of voters living in the North East constituency in Delhi hail from Purvanchal. For these voters, Manoj Tiwari is a natural choice.
For Sheila Dikshit, the advantages of population demographics, strong party cadre base, and celebrity status Manoj Tiwari brought into the contest proved too much to match. And then, there was the Modi factor.
At 81, she may still keep herself busy with some advisory work within the Congress Working Committee, but in terms of active politics, it seems curtains for the grand old lady of Delhi.