The dusk of 20th July 2019 was heavy and dark with the news of longest-serving female chief minister Smt. Sheila Dikshit passing away at 81 years of age. She was one of the longest serving chief ministers of Delhi, serving for a period of 15 years from 1998 to 2013. Under her lead, Congress party bagged three consecutive victories in Delhi. In December 2013, New Delhi constituency was won by AAP leader, Kejriwal, who replaced her as Delhi’s CM from 2013-present.
Born on 31 March 1938 to a Punjabi Khatri family in Kapurthala, Punjab Sheila Kapoor was educated at a Convent of Jesus and Mary School in Delhi. She graduated from the Miranda House at the University of Delhi, with a Master of Arts Degree.
Dikshit was a prominent member of the council of ministers of Rajiv Gandhi during his Prime Minister rule. She represented Kannauj parliamentary constituency of Uttar Pradesh between 1984 and 1989. She served on the Estimates committee of Lok Sabha as a member of parliament. She represented India at United Nations commission on Status of Women for five years. She also served as a Union Minister during 1986-1989 first, as minister of state for parliamentary Affairs and later as the minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Dikshit had always worked strictly for Women safety and other issues. In early 1970’s she was chairperson of the Young Women’s Association. In Uttar Pradesh she was jailed with 82 colleagues in August 1990 for 23 days by the state government when she led a movement against the atrocities committed against women.
In 1998, Dikshit was defeated by BJP’s Lal Bihari Tiwari in the parliamentary elections. In late 1998, she became the Chief Minister of Delhi and held the office till 2013. She represented the Gole Market Assembly constituency in 1998 and 2003 Elections and New Delhi constituency from 2008.
After her defeat by Arvind Kejriwal, she resigned on 8th December 2013, but remained as the caretaker chief minister till the new government was sworn on 28th December 2013. In March 2014, she was appointed as the Governor of Kerela, but resigned after five months of holding the office under force.
Vinod Dikshit, Sheila’s spouse is the son of independence activist and former West Bengal governor Uma Shankar Dikshit, while he himself was an Indian Administrative Service officer. She was a mother to two children, Sandeep Dikshit, former MP and Latika Syed.
She was awarded Best Chief Minister of India, by Journalist Association of India in 2008. She was also titled as the Politician of the year by NDTV in 2009. For her good work in the work in the field of women welfare, she was awarded 2013 Delhi Women of the decade Award by All Ladies League for outstanding public service.
She underwent angioplasty in November 2012 and had heart surgery in 2018 in University Hospital in Lille, France. Dikshit was admitted to Fortis Escortes Heart Institute on 19 July 2019 for cardiac arrhythmic and put on ventilator. She was in a stable condition temporarily but couldn’t recover from multiple cardiac arrests and her condition worsened. She left for the heavenly abode at 3:55pm on 20 July, at the age of 81. The Delhi government announced a two-day mourning period and accorded her a state funeral.
By,: Paridhi Saxena