Sheila Dikshit, Indian veteran politician, dies aged 81

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “deeply saddened by the demise of Sheila Dikshit Ji.” She was “blessed with a warm and affable personality, she made a noteworthy contribution to Delhi’s development. Condolences to her family and supporters. Om Shanti,” he said.

Dikshit was born in the city of Kapurthala in the northern state of Punjab, and became the longest-serving chief minister for the capital territory, in office from 1998 to 2013.

She is widely credited with transforming New Delhi’s infrastructure by improving public transport in the city and introducing buses powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) to combat pollution.

Dikshit joined the Congress Party in 1984, and later led it to an unprecedented consecutive three-term victory in Delhi.

She was also a member of the Indian delegation for the United Nations Commission on the status of women from 1984 to 1989, just as she began her career in professional politics.

Her last few years as Delhi chief minister were marked with corruption scandals, especially for irregularities during the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

She lost in assembly elections held in December 2013 to the Aam Aadmi Party led by Arvind Kejriwal.

She served as the governor for the state of Kerala in 2014 but resigned five months later.

In the recent 2019 general elections, she ran as a Congress candidate from a Delhi constituency but lost to a BJP candidate, Manoj Tiwari.

She was chief minister of Delhi during the anti-corruption movement started by Anna Hazare in 2011 and was widely criticized for her government’s handling of the protests. She was also in power during the 2012 Delhi gang rape case. Thousands of protesters gathered at India Gate and clashed with law enforcement officials.

Rahul Gandhi, senior leader of the Congress Party, also paid his condolences Saturday. “I’m devastated to hear about the passing away of Sheila Dikshit Ji, a beloved daughter of the Congress Party, with whom I shared a close personal bond.

“My condolences to her family & the citizens of Delhi, whom she served selflessly as a 3 term CM, in this time of great grief.”

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