New Delhi: Three-time former Delhi Chief Minister and veteran Congress leader Sheila Dikshit passed away on Saturday afternoon at a private hospital here, her family and the party said. She was 81.
Dikshit breathed her last at 3.55 p.m at Fortis Escorts hospital, doctors said. Dikshit was known to have been battling cardiac problems for some time but remained active in the capital’s political scene.
Credited for ‘changing the face’ of Delhi with infrastructure projects, such as the Delhi Metro and scores of flyovers, Dikshit served as Delhi's chief minister for 15 years from 1998-2013 and was also governor of Kerala. She was recently appointed president of her party’s Delhi committee.
In the Lok Sabha elections in May this year, Dikshit contested from the North-East Delhi constituency but lost to BJP’s Manoj Tiwari with a margin of over three lakh votes. She represented the New Delhi constituency in Delhi Assembly.
Dikshit, the daughter-in-law of Congress veteran Uma Shankar Diskhit, came to the centrestage as an MP for the first time from Kannauj Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh in 1984. She was also a close associate of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and a minister in his cabinet.
President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who trounced her in the previous Delhi Assembly elections from the New Delhi constituency, were among those who condoled her death.
"Just now got to know about the extremely terrible news about the passing away of Sheila Dikshit. It is a huge loss for Delhi and her contribution will always be remembered. My heartfelt condolences to her family members. May her soul rest in peace," the Aam Aadmi Party convenor and Delhi CM said in a tweet.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said he was devastated to hear about her passing away and referred to her as the "beloved daughter" of the party.
Dikshit was born on March 31, 1938 in Kapurthala, Punjab, according to Livemint. Her first stint as chief minister of Delhi started in 1998 when she defeated the Bharatiya Janata Party to serve three terms.
While Dikshit was credited with changing the landscape of India’s capital city, she also came under the scanner for her spending on the Commonwealth Games 2010, leading to her and her party’s defeat by the AAP in 2013.
(with inputs from PTI)