She keeps TV off, frets over cane chairs and regrets that 'granddaughters busier'
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After a month on the road, Sheila Dikshit, Raman Singh, Ashok Gehlot, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Lal Thanhawla had time for families, movies, books. The Sunday Express caught up with them in the lull before Sunday's storm
On a Saturday morning in Delhi, two cousins in their mid-70s are catching up over tea in the winter sun. Conversation drifts to daughters, granddaughters, cushion covers, handloom saris, shoes and plants, amidst a lot of laughter. A day before the Assembly election results, the only thing that gives away the tension is a packet of prasad from an early morning temple visit —batashas and a banana. "The temple was rather generous. They gave you an entire banana... You must have prayed really hard," the elder of the cousins, Delhi Chief Minister of 15 years Sheila Dikshit, jokes with her cousin.
After a month of hectic campaigning — seven-eight rallies a day, brainstorming sessions in the "backroom" managed by daughter Latika, and a constant stream of visitors — the CM's residence on Motilal Nehru Marg is suddenly quiet. Latika is taking a two-day break in Kolkata with her family, while Dikshit's sister Rama, who was in-charge of the CM's own constituency, has gone to her own home for a day. Son Sandeep walks around, but is preoccupied in own thoughts. The couple of visitors around tick off constituencies, in whispers.
The grand old lady of Delhi politics insists the silence is to "ensure we are rejuvenated" before counting day. In "old times", she confesses, it would have simply meant some TV and good food. But now, watching television has been done away with. "I used to watch a lot of TV earlier. But now I find it's the worst possible thing to do. Television is filled with nonsensical news, a hundred exit polls and biased coverage, just a lot of noise," Dikshit says. Those polls have predicted her exit from the seat of power in Delhi, which she dismisses.