New Delhi: Senior Congress leader and the longest-serving woman chief minister in India Sheila Dikshit passed away in the national capital on Saturday. She was 81.
Dikshit was admitted in Fortis Escorts Heart Institute on Saturday morning. She breathed her last at 03:55 pm after suffering cardiac arrest.
Dikshit was the chief minister of Delhi from 1998 to 2013 serving three terms.
Born as Sheila Kapoor on March 31, 1938, in Kapurthala, Punjab, Dikshit did her schooling from Convent of Jesus and Mary School in the capital and graduated from Miranda House, University of Delhi.
She married Vinod Dikshit, an Indian Administrative Officer and son of former West Bengal Governor Uma Shankar Dikshit in 1962.
Dikshit was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1984 from Kannauj parliamentary constituency of Uttar Pradesh.
A warm and affable politician, she was a loyalist of the Gandhi family. She was handpicked by Rajiv Gandhi to be part of his council of ministers after he became the prime minister in 1984.
She was appointed the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and held the office between 1984 and 1989.
She was also a member of the Estimates Committee of Lok Sabha.
She represented India at the United Nations Commission on Status of Women for five years (1984-1989).
As an active politician, Dikshit was instrumental in leading the charge for people. In the 1970s, Dikshit was the chairperson of the Young Women's Association. In 1990, she was jailed for 23 days when she led a movement against atrocities being committed on women.
She lost the 1998 parliamentary election to Bharatiya Janata Party’s Lal Bihari Tiwari in East Delhi constituency.
She took over as the chief minister of Delhi in 1998. She represented the Gole Market constituency in 1998 and 2003 and Delhi constituency in 2008.
Dikshit ushered in an era of all-round development that transformed Delhi into a world-class capital. She also initiated green reforms in the public transport sector successfully accomplishing the shift from polluting vehicles to a CNG based fleet.
Dikshit fastened the flagship Delhi Metro project, oversaw the creation of a network of flyovers in a city stressed with high population density and heavy traffic and also led the phasing out of the killer blue line buses.
Dikshit-led Congress government in Delhi did not win a single seat in 2013 Assembly elections when Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party won 67 Assembly seats and BJP bagged three.
Later, Dikshit was appointed as the Governor of Kerala in March 2014. She resigned from the post five months later.
Dikshit battled several challenges during her long career. There were corruption charges during the Commonwealth Games in 2010, but she rode over them to give the world a spectacular show.
She faced public ire after the infamous Nirbhaya gangrape in 2012 following which the government set up a common helpline number for women.
She was also projected as chief ministerial candidate in Uttar Pradesh, ahead of 2017 assembly polls, but had to withdraw after the Congress tied up with the Samajwadi Party.
Dikshit was appointed the President of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee in the run-up to the recent Lok Sabha elections. The party performed poorly losing all seven parliamentary seats in the national capital.
Dikshit was quite fond of Western music since her youth and would sit near the radio waiting for her favourite songs to be aired, Press Trust of India reported.
She also developed a fascination for footwear and had a good collection. Apart from these, reading was a big passion. She also loved watching movies and her first film in theatres was "Hamlet" in black-and-white.
Her favourite books were Lewis Caroll's "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass, What Alice Found There" and the Sherlock Holmes series.
Friday nights, according to her, were reserved for an immensely popular western music programme called, "A Date with You", which played the latest songs.