Sheila Dikshit voices reservations over Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi: Yet another Congress stalwart on Tuesday voiced reservations over Rahul Gandhi's likely elevation as party president, with former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit saying there was 'skepticism' over his leadership qualities and pitched for continuance of Sonia Gandhi at the helm.

Sheila Dikshit voices reservations over Rahul GandhiSheila Dixit. File pic

The 77-year-old veteran said under the incumbent president there was a 'comfort feeling' and that the party could rely on her '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 (Rahul) 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," Dikshit told PTI in an interview.

When the interview went on wires, Dikshit spoke to journalists to clarify that she had not said that Rahul Gandhi is 'incapable' and asked TV channels not to attribute to her remarks she had not made.

PTI story did not quote the former Delhi Chief Minister as having called Rahul incapable and the agency stands by its report which was based on a tape-recorded interview.

Dikshit said Rahul's leadership qualities have not been fully tested yet. "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 skepticism because you have not seen him perform as yet," Dikshit said.

"He has not had the opportunity to perform as yet. He has not had the responsibility. So to judge him and say that 'write him off' or criticise him something he has not been able to do so, I do not think, is a fair assesment of the person. We have to wait and see," she said.

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

Dikshit's son Sandeep had earlier this month said that Sonia was the 'leader' for '99 per cent of party-men' and she was needed at the helm now more than ever. Singh had said Sonia should 'retain' Congress President-ship and a generational change cannot be done 'with a knife'.

"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," Dikshit said, adding it was too early to judge his leadership credentials.

Asked whether the party should accept if Sonia decides to step down, 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.

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