Sheila Dikshit, the Congress leader who ruled the capital city for three consecutive terms as its Chief Minister from December 1998 to December 2013, had passed away on Saturday, 20th July. She was very active in politics and was fighting a battle to revive the fortunes of her party as president of its Delhi unit.
Sad to hear of the passing of Smt Sheila Dikshit, former Chief Minister of Delhi and a senior political figure. Her term in office was a period of momentous transformation for the capital for which she will be remembered. Condolences to her family and associates #PresidentKovind
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) July 20, 2019
Born to an Army officer in Kapurthala, Sheila Dikshit was educated in Delhi at Jesus and Mary Convent and Miranda House. She completed a Master’s degree in History and married her college-time beau Vinod Dikshit, who was a student at St Stephen’s College. Vinod was the son of noted freedom fighter Uma Shankar Dikshit, a former Union minister who was the backbone of the Congress organization. She had also worked as the minister-in-charge of the PMO during Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure.
While her tenure in the politics of India, she had made remarkable landmarks which are remembered by people who have stayed close to her, and to those whom she had stayed close with. However, there are downfalls to every rising star. She also was accused to set foot in various scams, where we decide to peep into.
- She was alleged to be involved in scandals costing a huge amount before the assembly elections took place in 2013. Arvind Kejriwal, the AAP leader accused of her involvement in the scam prior to the elections.
- The Commonwealth Games scams, that cost the state coffers a huge amount, is widely considered as one of the major reasons for the debacle of Delhi’s three-time chief minister Dikshit.
- Sheila Dikshit has been accused of a 400 crore tanker scam during her term as Chief Minister in Delhi, by AAP Delhi Water Minister Kapil Mishra. The alleged irregularities happened in 2012 when the Delhi Jal Board hired 385 water tankers from private contractors. Dikshit was the chairperson of the DJB at the time. The report of the committee further suggests that the acts of omission and commission by the then DJB under Dikshit resulted in a loss of Rs 400 crore to the exchequer. Further, responding to the allegations, Sheila Dikshit questioned the time of the allegations and said why are these queries coming up now after all these years. She also said that it was politically motivated.
Why and How did she shine?
Despite the adverse prevailing situation and a definite pro-BJP mood among the electorate, Sheila managed to give sitting MP Lal Bihari Tiwari a defeat. She mobilised an organisation and polled 5,17,721 votes — till then the highest ever by any Congress leader on any seat in Delhi. Although she lost, the party leadership was convinced that it had found the person to revive the Congress in the national capital. Caught in a cleft stick, the BJP leadership brought in Sushma Swaraj, Lok Sabha member from South Delhi, as Chief Minister. They thought they would kill two birds with one stone — end the factional feud and present a woman against a woman in the approaching polls.
In the 1970s she was the chairperson of the Young Women’s Association and later offered herself as an example to all the women that they can always dare to enter politics and exist as a beloved woman politician.
In the little time she had in the Delhi Congress, Sheila broke stereotypes. She gave tickets to a mix of youth leaders, established workers, educated persons and a fair number of women. They made a very enthusiastic team, each trying to outperform the other on their respective turfs. This enthusiasm paid rich dividends as the Congress turned the tables on the BJP, bagging 52 of the 70 seats and more than 47% of the vote share.
She had delivered herself on the Delhi Metro, the 75-odd flyovers, including elevated roads and several underpasses, water pipelines that were several kilometers long, numerous hospitals, several college buildings, new universities, a new group of blue-lined buses, social security schemes, cultural verticals, and so on.
Her famous citizenship program Bhagidari Project has earned accolades at the national and international levels and even received recognition from the United Nations. She extended this partnership at the level of inter-government interaction as well.
The infrastructure for Commonwealth Games under her leadership got recognition in foreign nations. The foreign participants and delegates had said that a better tournament had not been organized in the history of the CWG. It gave Delhi a major boost in infrastructure.
She, along with the scams she had been accused of, had secures special and a permanent room in the hearts of all politicians, bureaucrats and especially all women whom she had empowered by setting examples for them. And as an article by The Wire states, With Sheila Dikshit, an era of politics has come to an end. Her affable nature and ability to engage both senior party leaders and rank-and-filers, ordinary voters as well as the opposition, was what secured her an unprecedented three-term stint as chief minister of Delhi from 1998 to 2013.
Dikshit’s super political run in Delhi ended in 2013 at the hands of AAP founder Arvind Kejriwal who defeated her in assembly polls.