File photo of Sheila Dikshit
File photo of Sheila Dikshit

Sheila Dikshit: An affable leader who made a mark as Delhi chief minister

ANI | Updated: Jul 20, 2019 21:22 IST

New Delhi [India], July 20 (ANI): An affable and articulate leader with an easy connect with people, Sheila Dikshit was a prominent face of the Congress who was prepared to take on difficult challenges and left a mark on the country's polity as a leader who improved Delhi's infrastructure.
Widely respected across party lines, Dikshit, 81, remained rooted to the grassroots in her long years as a politician and practised politics in a way that reflected a healthy competition without bitterness towards her rivals.
She was the longest-serving chief minister of Delhi, having been in the post from 1998 to 2013 and led the party to power in successive assembly elections.
Apart from being a chief minister, Dikshit served as a union minister, a governor and handled organisational responsibilities in Congress.
She was close to members of the Nehru-Gandhi family and Congress President Rahul Gandhi described her as a "beloved daughter of Congress party" while recalling his close bond with her.
Born to a Punjabi family and married in a political family Uttar Pradesh which led to her joining politics, Dikshit was Congress' face in Delhi and later in Uttar Pradesh.
A multi-faceted personality and a cheerful politician with a zest for life, Dikshit was first elected to the Lok Sabha from Uttar Pradesh's Kannauj in 1984. She served as a minister of state in the Rajiv Gandhi government.
With the Congress facing a battle for survival in Uttar Pradesh, she was projected by the Congress as a chief ministerial candidate in the 2017 assembly polls before the party decided to have a tie-up with Samajwadi Party.
The Congress again banked on Dikshit ahead of Lok Sabha polls this year, appointing her Delhi Congress chief to revive the party's fortunes.
Dikshit contested from North East Delhi and lost but Congress finished second on five seats compared to two by the ruling Aam Aadmi Party.
She lost power to the AAP in December 2013 elections and was defeated on her seat by Arvind Kejriwal, who had entered politics from anti-corruption movement.
After her defeat in Delhi elections, Dikshit was appointed Governor of Kerala in 2014 but resigned after BJP-led government came to power.
Born on March 31, 1938, at Kapurthala, Punjab, she completed her masters in history from Delhi University. Dikshit was the daughter-in-law of former union minister Uma Shankar Dikshit, who had fought against the British during the independence struggle.
As Chief Minister, she worked to expanded Delhi's green cover, improve pass percentage in schools, create new universities and hospitals and got flyovers built to ease traffic congestion.
Dikshit deftly dealt with factionalism in the party and was committed to her work. She held a political meeting on Thursday even as there were reports of differences over some of her decisions to streamline the party for assembly polls.
Dikshit was the Chief Minister when India hosted Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010.
She had wide-ranging interests including books, music, reading, theatre besides travelling and gardening. She was also interested in handicrafts and handlooms, nature, environment, education and films. (ANI)