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. 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. She 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. 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.
Dikshit was originally born as Sheila Kapoor, in a Punjabi Khatri family on March 31, 1938 in Kapurthala, Punjab. She 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.
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 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.
Being touted as one of the tallest leaders of Delhi, Dikshit led the Congress to three consecutive electoral victories in the national capital.
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.
An able administrator, Dikshit could get along well with politicians from all parties for which she drew widespread respect.
From former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to veteran BJP leader LK Advani to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Dikshit has always maintained a warm relation with all the politicians from across party lines.
Meanwhile, Dikshit's sudden death on Saturday afternoon sent shock waves across the country and the politicians from different political parties are arriving at her Delhi residence to pay their last respects to the warhorse.
Dikshit's mortal remains has been brought back to her Nizamuddin East residence from the Fortis Escorts Heart Institute in Delhi. Her last rites will be performed at 2.30 pm tomorrow at Nigam Bodh ghat.