RIP Sheila Dikshit: A look at the life and political career of Congress warhorse
Former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit (File Photo)
Sheila Dikshit, the three-time chief minister of Delhi, having served for the longest period of 15 years between 1998 and 2013, on Saturday breathed her last at Fortis Escorts hospital in Delhi. Dikshit's sudden demise will certainly leave a void in the Indian National Congress, that can never be filled. The 81-year-old, who had significant contribution to Delhi's development, including that of Metro Rail project, led the Congress to three consecutive electoral victories in the national capital. The veteran politician, who kept herself away from active politics for years, was again appointed as the president of Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee earlier this year, in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections 2019.
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As Dikshit's sudden death sent shock waves across the country, here is a look at the life and political career of the Congress warhorse:
- Originally born as Sheila Kapoor, in a Punjabi Khatri family on March 31, 1938 in Kapurthala, Punjab.
- Studied at the Convent of Jesus and Mary School in New Delhi and graduated with a Master of Arts degree in history from the Miranda House in the University of Delhi.
- As the wife of an IAS officer - Vinod Dikshit- and daughter-in- law of well-known freedom fighter and politician, Uma Shankar Dikshit, with his long association with the Nehru-Gandhi family, Dikshit saw governance from both ends.
- When she began assisting her father-in- law from 1969, her up-close view of politics eventually became a springboard for her own entry into the arena in December 1984, inaugurating a 30-year-long career in politics.
- Dikshit made her debut in electoral politics in 1984 as a member of the Indian National Congress, contesting and winning from the Kannauj parliamentary constituency in Uttar Pradesh.
- The Congress stalwart became an MP for the first time from Kannauj Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh in 1984.
- Dikshit was also a close associate of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and a minister in his cabinet. It was Indira Gandhi who first picked her to be part of a UN delegation.
- She remained a minister in the Prime Minister's Office before the Congress was ousted in national elections in 1989.
- Dikshit's rapport with Congress president Sonia Gandhi helped her become president of the faction-ridden party in Delhi in May 1998, six months before she led it to victory in assembly elections.
- The high price of onions helped Dikshit defeat the BJP in 1998. The Congress won an impressive 52 of the 70 seats in Delhi that year. The Dikshit magic continued to work till 2013.
- In the December 2013 elections to the Delhi Legislative Assembly, Dikshit was defeated in New Delhi constituency by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal, who replaced her as Delhi's chief minister.
- Subsequently, she was sworn in as Governor of Kerala on 11 March 2014, but resigned in August, same year.
- Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections 2019, Dikshit was appointed as president of Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee on January 10, 2019.
- However, luck did not favour her in the 2019 elections and she unsuccessfully fought from the North-East Delhi constituency.
- In a career spanning over three decades, Dikshit has been credited for Delhi's growing infrastructure including roads and flyovers, a less polluted city, better public transport system, especially the Metro Rail Project and the development on the health and educational fronts as well.
First Published: Saturday, July 20, 2019 04:42 PM