New Delhi: Political leaders across the spectrum sent their condolences over the death of former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit on Saturday. The senior Congress leader was admitted to Fortis Escorts Heart Institute on Saturday morning in a critical state due to a cardiac problem.
Dikshit was the chief minister of Delhi for 15 years and possibly one of the longest serving chief ministers of Congress.
"I’m devastated to hear about the passing away of Sheila Dikshit Ji, a beloved daughter of the Congress Party, with whom I shared a close personal bond. My condolences to her family & the citizens of Delhi, whom she served selflessly as a 3 term CM, in this time of great grief," tweeted Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
Read Sheila Dikshit's last interview to Mint
The 80-year-old Congress leader had undergone heart surgery in France last year. Dr Ashok Seth, chairman of Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, had advised that the procedure be performed at University Hospital in Lille, France under the care of Dr Thomas Modine.
Sources said Dikshit had been undergoing treatment at Fortis Escorts hospital under the supervision of Dr Seth for the past few years. She had undergone angioplasty in November 2012 and was also treated for infection some time ago.
"Deeply saddened by the demise of Sheila Dikshit Ji. Blessed with a warm and affable personality, she made a noteworthy contribution to Delhi’s development. Condolences to her family and supporters. Om Shanti," tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Dikshit had played a decisive role in the three-term Congress government in Delhi. She had managed to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for consecutive terms but lost power to Delhi chief Arvind Kejriwal in December 2013.
The veteran politician was defeated by Kejriwal in a straight electoral fight in the New Delhi constituency. "Just now got to know about the extremely terrible news about the passing away of Mrs Sheila Dikshit ji. 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," Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party national convener Arvind Kejriwal said.
After her electoral defeat in Delhi, Dikshit became the Governor of Kerala in March 2014 and was later made the chief ministerial candidate of the Congress in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. However, she withdrew from the electoral contest after the Congress joined hands with Samajwadi Party (SP).
"Sad to hear of the passing of Smt Sheila Dikshit, former Chief Minister of Delhi and a senior political figure. Her term in office was a period of momentous transformation for the capital for which she will be remembered. Condolences to her family and associates," tweeted President of India Ram Nath Kovind.
“A multi-disciplinary team of doctors, led by Dr Ashok Seth, chairman, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, carried out advanced resuscitative measures. Her condition stabilised temporarily. However, she had another cardiac arrest and despite all resuscitative efforts, passed away at 3:55pm," Fortis Escorts Heart Institute said in a statement.
Dikshit was born in Kapurthala, Punjab, but her schooling and college took place in Delhi. She completed her masters in history from Delhi University. The former Delhi chief minister was born on 31 March 1938.
Dikshit started her political career in 1984 when she became a Member of Parliament (MP) from Kannauj in Uttar Pradesh. She later represented the constituency again in 1989 and was a Union minister in the Rajiv Gandhi government during 1986-1989. Her first stint as chief minister of Delhi started in 1998 when she defeated the BJP and became chief minister.
Dikshit's entry into Indian politics was accidental and also because of her family connections. Dikshit being the daughter-in-law of Uma Shankar Dikshit, a noted activist who had fought against the British during the independence struggle. when Uma Shankar Dikshit became a Union cabinet minister in the Indira Gandhi government, Sheila Dikshit would often help her father-in-law. Former prime minister Indira Gandhi recognised Sheila Dikshit's political and administrative acumen and made her a delegate of the United Nations Commission on the issue of status of women.
Pretika Khanna contributed to the story