Former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit on Friday clarified her comments on 46-year-old Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and said he had the “sensitivity and concern of a mature leader”. The former chief minister took to Twitter to after an exclusive interview in The Times of India quoted her as saying that Gandhi “was still not mature” and that he be “given more time” in the current political scenario.
Using a “Don’t twist my words” hashtag, the senior leader clarified, “Rahul has the sensitivity and concern of a mature leader. His words are those of a young, courageous and restless man.”
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah quickly responded to Dixit’s remarks, PTI reported. “If he is not mature, then why has he been forced upon Uttar Pradesh? Is this a political laboratory or learning ground for someone?” Shah said at an election rally in Uttar Pradesh. In an apparent reference to Rahul Gandhi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Shah also said, “It is quite amusing that one prince is giving a tough time to his mother [Sonia Gandhi], the other to his father [Mulayam Singh Yadav], and both are troubling Uttar Pradesh.”
In her interview, former Delhi Chief Minister Dixit had said the Congress needs a leadership change on “posts that have been occupied for decades”.
She was speaking about how the politics and language used in the field has changed and said the party was going through a generational and political change. “I think he [Rahul Gandhi] has come a long way. He is not yet prime minister because that opportunity will come later, but he is doing things,” Dixit was quoted as saying. She added that he has been attending meetings and “he is one person who is known to speak his mind”. “I feel it is good that he is natural, but if some feel that it is not so then one develops it on the way.”
On the leadership change within the party, Dixit said, “The whole thing is being kept on hold waiting for Rahul, and this should happen after these elections are over,” The Times of India reported. She credited Priyanka Gandhi with having played an crucial role in forming the Samajwadi-Congress alliance in Uttar Pradesh. “Whether she [Priyanka Gandhi] will enter electoral politics is a decision that will have to be hers and that of the family. We are all hoping that both Rahul and Priyanka take up positions in the party,” Dixit told the English daily.
Taking a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his comments on his predecessor Manmohan Singh, Dixit said, “You would not expect the PM to say what he said about former PM Manmohan Singh. In this change of approach, link, language and relationships, Congress is adjusting itself.”
Ruling out speculation over her retirement and her absence from the Congress campaign, Dixit said her ill health had kept her away for a while but that she would resume promoting the party in Banaras.