TOI EDIT-Capital Loss Sheila Dikshit embodied the spirit of a modern, resurgent Delhi


Capital Loss
Sheila Dikshit embodied the spirit of a modern, resurgent Delhi
India’s political landscape today resounds with the rhetoric of transformation, which could perhaps be dated to the rousing calls of ‘poriborton’ with which Mamata Banerjee ousted the Left Front in Bengal in 2011. However, if there is one leader who has indubitably delivered on transformation in recent times without necessarily sounding off so much it was Sheila Dikshit – who even her opponents concede is responsible for Delhi’s modern face when so many Indian cities today are best known for their crumbling infrastructure.

It was under her tenure, from 1998 to 2013, that Delhi acquired a modern infrastructure – the most notable of which was the commencement of Delhi Metro operations. It was also under Dikshit that Delhi made the switch to cleaner CNG fuel for public transport and moved to privatised electricity distribution. But perhaps her biggest achievement was in getting the residents of Delhi involved in the city’s development through the Bhagidari movement steered by residents’ welfare associations. This gave residents a sense of investment in the city.

Politically, Dikshit handled relations with the Centre with much sophistication. That is in stark contrast to troubled Delhi-Centre relations today with AAP and BJP perpetually locking horns. However, even as she came to embody the spirit of Delhi, Dikshit’s downfall was sharp following the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Allegations of corruption in preparing for the mega event, coupled with the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, dented Dikshit’s reputation. Congress’s loss in the 2013 assembly election saw her being sidelined, but recently the party decided to put its faith in her again to revive its fortunes in Delhi. Her passing at the age of 81 is undoubtedly a big blow to Congress. But more than Congress today’s political leaders, of all dispensations, have much to learn from her effective and consensual style of developmental politics

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