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HT EDIT-Farewell, Sheila Dikshit Delhi will remember the former CM with fondness and gratitude

COURTESY HINDUSTAN TIMES EDITORIAL JULY 22

Farewell, Sheila Dikshit
Delhi will remember the former CM with fondness and gratitude
Sheila Dikshit, who served as the chief minister (CM) of Delhi for an uninterrupted 15 years, passed away on Saturday. A towering figure in the Congress, Dikshit’s political socialisation happened at home. Her fatherin-law, Uma Shankar Dikshit, was a close associate of Indira Gandhi. And, so, when Dikshit chose to enter politics, she had access to the party’s top leadership. When Rajiv

Gandhi won a historic mandate in 1984, Dikshit served as a minister of state.

But Dikshit really came in to her own when she took over as Delhi’s CM in 1998. It was a challenging context. Externally, the Bharatiya Janata Party was in power at the Centre. And given Delhi’s unique constitutional status, the local government was dependent on the Centre. Internally, the old stalwarts of the Delhi Congress saw her as an outsider, and Dikshit had to face factional challenges for much of her stint. And on the governance front, Delhi was more of an overgrown village than a cohesive city. Dikshit’s astute political and administrative skills, warm personal style, and a larger vision, helped. She prioritised infrastructure, reflected in the construction of flyovers and the push for Delhi metro. Under court orders, she oversaw the transition of public transport to CNG. Power privatisation happened under her regime, and while this drew criticism, it helped the city overcome shortages. She encouraged participatory governance. And but for her last-minute micromanagement, Delhi would have struggled to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Dikshit’s tenure saw allegations of corruption. The December 16 rape incident symbolised the perils women faced in the city. Dikshit lost in 2013. Her final few years were difficult. The Congress first proposed, and then withdrew, her name as the Cm-face in the UP elections of 2017. She was given charge of Delhi for the Lok Sabha polls, but lost her own election. But there is little doubt that Dikshit transformed Delhi, and would rank as one of best performing chief ministers of the country ever. The city will remember her with fondness, and gratitude

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