New Delhi: Former Delhi chief minister and veteran Congress leader Sheila Dikshit, who passed away aged 81 on Saturday, was a 'fighter' throughout her life and left behind a political legacy that will be difficult to match for the coming generation of politicians.
Her contribution towards her party and services as a three-time 'people-friendly' chief minister of Delhi, which was often contested with the allegations of her being an 'authoritarian' woman and a strict administrator, will be long remembered among the political fraternity.
Sheila Dikshit was serving as the Delhi Congress chief at the time of her death. She was also the longest-serving Congress chief minister of Delhi - ruling uncontested for a period of 15 years from 1998 to 2013. During her illustrious political career that spanned nearly four decades, she even served as the Governor of Kerala.
A 'Congresswoman' for life, Sheila Dikshit made her political debut in 1984 when she successfully contested the Lok Sabha election from Uttar Pradesh's Kannauj parliamentary constituency. She represented the Kannauj constituency from 1984-1989 as a parliamentarian.
She went on to hold a chair in various committees of the grand old party over the years and represented India at the United Nations Commission on Status of Women between 1984 and 1989.
Her political career took a notable turn in 1986 when she was made the Union Minister, first as the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and, later as a Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office. The three-time chief minister made Congress a dominant party in Delhi until she lost to Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal, who defeated her from the New Delhi constituency in 2013 assembly elections.
Dikshit, who was born in Punjab's Kapurthala in 1938, was jailed for 23 days by the Uttar Pradesh government for leading a movement against the atrocities being committed on women along with her 82 colleagues in August 1990.
In the early 1970s, she served as the chairperson of the Young Women's Association and was crucial in the setting up of two hostels for working women in Delhi.
Dikshit's political journey in Delhi began in 1998 when she was defeated by Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Lal Bihari Tiwari in East Delhi parliamentary constituency.
Later in the same year, Dikshit became the Chief Minister of Delhi in 1998 for the first time and led her party to victory in 2003 and 2008 assembly elections.
During her tenure as chief minister, Dikshit brought in several key projects and is widely credited for reforming the power sector, infrastructure, and social security schemes.
Dikshit's vibrant political life was embroiled in several controversies too. She was accused of corruption in the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report allegedly blamed her for irregularities in imported equipment for street lighting in the city during the games.
However, later the then Delhi chief secretary PK Tripathi claimed that the chief minister had no role to play in awarding contracts for street lighting in Delhi during the games.
After losing to CM Kejriwal in 2013, Dikshit was appointed as the Governor of Kerala in 2014. She, however, resigned within a few months and took a sabbatical from politics for some time.
In the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, She was appointed as president of Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee on January 10, 2019.
She had unsuccessfully contested from Delhi's North East Delhi constituency and lost to BJP's actor-turned-politician Manoj Tiwari by a margin of over 3 lakh votes.