Former External Affairs Minister and Congress leader Natwar Singh talking to ANI on Sunday. Photo/ANI
Former External Affairs Minister and Congress leader Natwar Singh talking to ANI on Sunday. Photo/ANI

Party was first for Sheila Dikshit despite ill health: Senior Congressman Natwar Singh

ANI | Updated: Jul 21, 2019 15:57 IST

New Delhi [India], July 21 (ANI): A day after Congress stalwart Sheila Dikshit passed away, her party colleague Natwar Singh on Sunday remembered the former Delhi chief minister and added that the party was always her first priority despite ill health.
"We were close friends for about 40 years. I recently asked her why she was fighting elections and not taking care of her health. She told me that the party is her first priority. Her demise is a great loss for the Congress party," the former external affairs minister told ANI.
Dikshit, 81, passed away at 3.55 pm on Saturday following a cardiac arrest in a private hospital of the national capital. She was appointed as the president of Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee earlier this year ahead of the Lok Sabha polls and contested from North East Delhi but lost.
"She was a very cool person, who never raised her voice or got angry. She was an integrated human being, her mind and heart were one, which is a very rare feat. Everyone respected her; she was a mother figure among her colleagues," Singh said.
Sheila Dikshit was so far the longest-serving chief minister of Delhi, having served in office for 15 years from 1998. The former chief minister is also credited for the national capital's infrastructure including roads and flyovers and better public transport system.
"All three of her terms were a success. There would have been no metro, flyovers, cleanliness in the city without her. There were no scandals in her terms either. People tried maligning her image but could not succeed. That is because she never compromised on her principles," Singh said.
"No one in the congress party is capable of replacing her. There is no one with the same stature, connections or experience," he said.
Singh also talked about the first time he worked with the late leader: "We first worked together in the Indira Memorial Trust. Sonia Gandhi was chairperson, I was vice-chairman and Sheila Dikshit was the secretary. That is when she got close to Sonia Gandhi."
"And when it was time to choose a chief for the party in the capital, she was selected. We couldn't find another leader fit for the position. She led the government for 15 years without a single conflict. That is the kind of leader she was," Singh said.
Several leaders, across party lines, paid tributes to Dikshit, including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi, BJP veteran LK Advani, National Conference's Omar Abdullah, and many others. (ANI)