Sheila Dikshit

Ex-CM, Delhi

INC

Background

Sheila Dikshit was born in Kapurthala, Punjab in 1938 with no plans or connection to Indian politics and went on to do her Masters in History from Miranda House, DU. Earlier, she taught at a Nursery school as well. Her life took a political  turn after she married Vinod Dikshit, son of freedom fighter and West Bengal governor Uma Shankar Dikshit who also had a close relation with Indira and Rajiv Gandhi.

Despite any personal ambition and a reluctance to join politics, she received the attention of the Gandhi family and launched her political career in 1984 as an MP of Kannauj, UP. In her early career she represented India at the UN Commission on Status of Women, 1984-1989 and joined the Union Cabinet under Rajiv Gandhi's PMship in 1986-1989.

In 1989, she stood for parliamentary elections in Unnao but lost and decided to move her base to the capital. During these initial years, where her foundation as a political stalwart in Delhi was being laid, she led a movement in UP against atrocities on women and was even jailed for 23 days  (1990).

Achievements

Sheila Dikshit rose to great prominence in 1998, where she led a resounding victory for INC in the Delhi state elections. INC won 52 out of the 70 seats and this marked a 15 year long affair of Sheila Dikshit and the city of Delhi. She went on to become the longest serving female CM in India (1998-2013) where she made significant contributions to the development of Delhi as the cosmopolitan hub it is today.

Her tenure was credited for improvement in infrastructure from flyovers to the arrival of the Delhi Metro, strides in health and education, setting up of working hostels for women and of course, India's first Commonwealth games.

The commonwealth games of 2010 were later riddled with corruption scandals and in 2013, her stint as the CM of Delhi came to an end. She was later appointed as the Governor of Kerala in 2014, but resigned a few months after.

Sheila Dikshit was very vocal about dignity for women and women leadership. In an interview, she spoke about the disadvantages of being a women in politics, where female leadership is perceived as low on confidence and capabilities. However, women leaders are more understanding and receptive and have thus never been a 'failure'. As proven by her administration itself, 'Women do live upto expectations'.

Sheila Dikshit passed away at the age of 81 on July 20, 2019. Her life was remembered across party lines and generations of modern Delhi.

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