Three-time Delhi chief minister and Congress stalwart Sheila Dikshit, who gave the national capital its modern look, passed away Saturday afternoon at a private hospital here after suffering cardiac arrest.
Dikshit breathed her last at 3.55 pm at Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, doctors said.
She was brought to the hospital Saturday morning in a "critical condition with cardiac arrest", a Fortis Escorts statement said.
It said a multi-disciplinary team of doctors carried out advanced resuscitative measures and her condition stabilised temporarily but had another cardiac arrest. "Despite all the resuscitative efforts, passed away at 3:55 pm on July 20, 2019," the hospital said.
Her body has been kept at her Nizamuddin East residence, where politicians cutting across party lines, visited to pay their last respects.
The Delhi government declared a two-day mourning in the national capital as a mark of respect for the former chief minister. She will be accorded a state funeral on Sunday at the Nigambodh ghat.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited her residence and was accompanied by Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Jyotiraditya Scindia, and several other leaders visited her residence, besides BJP's Vijay Goel and CPI(M) leaders Sitaram Yechury and Brinda Karat, to pay their last respects.
Condolences poured in from various quarters after her demise, with President Ram Nath Kovind and Modi recalling the "momentous transformation" of the national capital during her tenure. Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu termed her a good administrator.
Modi said she made a noteworthy contribution to Delhi's development.
"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," he tweeted.
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. pic.twitter.com/jERrvJlQ4X— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 20, 2019
Dikshit was president of Delhi Congress and had served as Delhi's chief minister for 15 years from 1998-2013.
As the longest-serving woman chief minister who steered her party to victory for three consecutive terms in 1998, 2003 and 2008, Dikshit ushered in an era of all-round development that transformed Delhi into a world-class capital.
She also initiated green reforms in the public transport sector successfully accomplishing the shift from polluting vehicles to a CNG based fleet.
Known as a warm and affable politician, Dikshit carried out massive infrastructure development of Delhi during her tenure. She also launched a number of social welfare schemes with the involvement of resident welfare associations as part of her participatory model of governance.
Born in Kapurthala in Punjab to a non-political family in 1938, Dikshit did her schooling from Convent of Jesus and Mary School in the capital and graduated from Miranda House, University of Delhi.
She got married in July 1962 to bureaucrat Vinod Dikshit, whose father Uma Shankar Dikshit was a loyalist of Jawaharlal Nehru and served as a minister in Indira Gandhi's cabinet in 1971 and later became Governor of Karnataka and West Bengal.
An able administrator, Dikshit could get along well with politicians from all parties for which she drew widespread respect.
She unsuccessfully fought the recent Lok Sabha elections from the North-East Delhi constituency. She represented New Delhi constituency in Delhi Vidhan Sabha.
Dikshit became an MP for the first time from Kannauj Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh in 1984. She was also a close associate of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and a minister in his cabinet. She also served as governor of Kerala.
CONDOLENCES POURING IN
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Congress leaders Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal were among those who condoled her death.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the people of Delhi had a deep affection for her and that is why she holds the distinction of being the only woman chief minister in India who has led her party to three consecutive victories in Assembly elections.
"In her death our country has lost a great administrator and an outstanding leader who contributed enormously to all-round development of Delhi," Singh said in a letter to Sandeep Dikshit.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said he was devastated to hear the news. He called her a "beloved daughter of the Congress Party, with whom I shared a close personal bond".
He said she served "selflessly as a three-term chief minister".
Kejriwal said Dikshit's death is a huge loss for Delhi and her contribution will always be remembered.
Veteran BJP leader L K Advani described her as an able administrator who made immense contribution to the development of Delhi. "Apart from many other achievements in her long career in public life, Sheila-ji will be remembered as a fine human being," Advani said.
BJP's Vijay Goel said he had family relations with her and used to meet and have political discussions. "She could win her rivals with her smile."
Yechury said millions of people benefitted from the contribution she made to the development of Delhi. "Even when illness struck her, she continued to fight."
Karat termed her a politician marked by complete modesty and total lack of pride and arrogance.
Lost a long-time friend: Former President Pranab Mukherjee
Former President Pranab Mukherjee also expressed shock over the demise of Sheila Dikshit, saying "I have lost a long-time friend".
Taking to Twitter to express his condolence, Mukherjee said, "I am saddened and shocked at the passing away of Smt Sheila Dikshit. A former Union Minister, 3-time CM and Governor, in her death I have lost a long-time friend and colleague. My thoughts are with her aggrieved family and friends".
For other reactions on Sheila Dikshit's death read | Three-time Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit dead at 81; condolences pour in
Sheila Dikshit's death a setback for Congress comeback plan in Delhi
The death of former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit will affect the Congress' dream of bouncing back in the upcoming Assembly polls in the city as she leaves a vacuum due to lack of any leader of her stature.
Dikshit was re-appointed as the party chief in January, ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, to strengthen the party in the city.
She had first become the Congress' Delhi chief in 1998 and led the party to the power that year. She repeated the victory in the next two polls to serve as Chief Minister for 15 years. With Assembly polls slated for next year, the party was expecting that her appointment could lead to a similar result. However, her sudden demise will make the party's dream all the more difficult.
Dikshit's leadership spelled hope for Congress's revival in the city, as under her leadership, the party's vote share in this Lok Sabha polls had increased.
After ruling in the city for 15 years, the Congress had secured a vote share of 24.55 per cent in the 2013 Assembly polls, which dropped to just 9.65 per cent in the 2015 Assembly polls.
In the recently-held Lok Sabha polls, the Congress's vote share went up to 22.46 per cent from that of 15.10 per cent in 2014.
But with her absence, the increasing factionalism in the state unit and no Central leadership, the party's task is becoming all the more tough.
A number of internal factions have formed within the state unit, including those led by Ajay Maken, J.P. Agarwal, Haroon Yusuf and Rajesh Lilothia among others.
Maken has proved himself as a flop show and also has had health issues, while other leaders do not have mass appeal like Dikshit.
Apart from Maken, Arvinder Singh Lovely could also have been a potential leader but his betrayal by shifting to the BJP for a short period will not be accepted by the leaders.
On the other hand, the conflict between Dikshit and party's Delhi in-charge P.C. Chacko was no secret.
Their differences came out into the public domain with Chacko writing letters to Dikshit questioning her working style. In the last few days, he had written to her a number of times to register his dissatisfaction with some of her decisions.
He had also expressed displeasure that his earlier directions were not implemented and some "so-called spokespersons" of the party were issuing "irresponsible" statements and questioning his decisions.
The state Congress was also divided on the issue of an alliance with the ruling Aam Aadmi Party in the Lok Sabha polls - while Maken and Chacko were supporting the tie-up, Dikshit strongly resisted it.
Despite then Congress chief Rahul Gandhi openly speaking of an alliance with AAP in Delhi, Dikshit always maintained her firm stand against it.
Despite her age and health issues, she was always open to people, rival politicians as well as journalists.
Her mass appeal and three terms as the Chief Minister - in which the city saw immense changes - could have helped the Congress in its return in Delhi, in a time when the party is only being rejected in almost every state.
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(with inputs from agencies)