Life & times of Sheila Dikshit, the no-nonsense leader who modernised Delhi

Sheila Dikshit passes away at 81
Delhi Congress president and former chief minister Sheila Dikshit passed away at 81 on Saturday, hours after was admitted to Escorts Hospital in New Delhi.

The three-time Delhi Chief Minister was unwell for some time. 

Dikshit was a stalwart of Indian politics and created history by becoming the longest-serving chief minister of Delhi. A no-nonsense politician, Dikshit was known to be a tough administrator.

She had an illustrious political career in which she held union cabinet posts and more importantly, enjoyed an uninterrupted 15-year-rule in the national capital. 

Till 2012, Dikshit was known to have unyielding influence in Delhi, and her rapport with the Gandhis supported her position. She oversaw rapid infrastructure momentum in the capital, in which flyovers and the tracks of the Delhi Metro materialised in no time.

A timeline of Sheila Dikshit's political journey


Entered politics by assisting her father-in-law. 


Was chairperson of the Young Women’s Association. During this period, she helped set up working women’s hostels in Delhi.


Made her debut in electoral politics in 1984 as a member of the Congress party. Contested from Kannauj parliamentary constituency in UP and won.

Represented India at the United Nations Commission on the status of women from 1984 to 1989.


Served as Union Minister in the Rajiv Gandhi-led government, first as Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and later as Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office.


She and her colleagues were arrested and jailed for 23 days by the UP government when she led a movement against atrocities committed on women in the state.


Was defeated by BJP's Lal Bihari Tiwari from East Delhi parliamentary constituency. Months after her defeat, she became the chief minister of Delhi. until 2013. In 1998, she represented the Gole Market assembly constituency and 2003 Assembly elections.


Dikshit was criticized when she granted parole to Manu Sharma, who was convicted for murdering Jessica Lal and was awarded a life term. In the same year, she was accused by advocate Sunita Bhardwaj, a BJP activist, of misusing funds sanctioned by the Central Government for Rajiv Ratan Awas Yojana, for personal advertisements. In 2013, she was found guilty by the ombudsman court, which ordered an FIR against her.


The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) accused Dikshit of corruption and irregularities related to street-light equipment imported to the city during the Commonwealth Games that year.


In the December 2013 Delhi Assembly elections, Dikshit was defeated in New Delhi constituency by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal, who replaced her as Delhi's chief minister.


Served as the governor of Kerala in March, but resigned in August, the same year.


Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections 2019, Dikshit was appointed as president of Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee on January 10, 2019. She unsuccessfully fought from the North-East Delhi constituency.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel