Sheila Dikshit dies at 81, leaders mourn

New Delhi: Three-time Delhi chief minister and Congress stalwart Sheila Dikshit, who gave the national capital its modern look, passed away Saturday afternoon at a private hospital here after suffering cardiac arrest. She was 81. Dikshit breathed her last at 3.55 pm at Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, doctors said.
She was brought to the hospital Saturday morning in a “critical condition with cardiac arrest”, a Fortis Escorts statement said. It said a multi-disciplinary team of doctors carried out advanced resuscitative measures and her condition stabilised temporarily, but had another cardiac arrest.
“Despite all the resuscitative efforts, passed away at 3:55 pm on July 20, 2019,” the hospital said. Her body has been kept at her Nizamuddin East residence, where politicians cutting across party lines, visited to pay their last respects.
The Delhi government declared a two-day mourning in the national capital as a mark of respect for the former chief minister. She will be accorded a state funeral on Sunday at the Nigambodh ghat.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited her residence and was accompanied by Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Jyotiraditya Scindia, and several other leaders visited her residence, besides BJP’s Vijay Goel and CPI(M) leaders Sitaram Yechury and Brinda Karat, to pay their last respects.
Dikshit was president of Delhi Congress and had served as Delhi’s chief minister for 15 years from 1998-2013.
As the longest serving woman chief minister who steered her party to victory for three consecutive terms in 1998, 2003 and 2008, Dikshit ushered in an era of all-round development that transformed Delhi into a world class capital.
She also initiated green reforms in public transport sector successfully accomplishing the shift from polluting vehicles to a CNG based fleet. Known as a warm and affable politician, Dikshit carried out massive infrastructure development of Delhi during her tenure.
She also launched a number of social welfare schemes with involvement of resident welfare associations as part of her participatory model of governance.
Born in Kapurthala in Punjab to a non-political family in 1938, Dikshit did her schooling from Convent of Jesus and Mary School in the capital and graduated from Miranda House, University of Delhi.
She got married in July 1962 to bureaucrat Vinod Dikshit, whose father Uma Shankar Dikshit was a loyalist of Jawaharlal Nehru and served as a minister in Indira Gandhi’s cabinet in 1971 and later became Governor of Karnataka and West Bengal.
An able administrator, Dikshit could get along well with politicians from all parties for which she drew widespread respect.
She unsuccessfully fought the recent Lok Sabha elections from the North-East Delhi constituency. She represented New Delhi constituency in Delhi Vidhan Sabha.
Dikshit became an MP for the first time from Kannauj Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh in 1984.
She was also a close associate of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and a minister in his cabinet. She also served as governor of Kerala. (PTI)