Sheila Dikshit: ‘mascot of a clean chief minister’ (Profile)National/Politics

December 8th, 2008 - 7:59 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 8 (IANS) From a politician by default to the Congress’ longest serving woman chief minister, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit Monday wrote herself into the record books by steering her party to a third consecutive victory in the assembly elections. Riding the twin planks of development and good governance, the 70-year-old Dikshit, who is known for her humility and charisma, was the first chief minister in Delhi to get a second consecutive term in 2003. And now, one more.

Dubbed an “outsider” by certain sections of the Congress, Dikshit is considered close to the Gandhi family and this helped her keep her opponents within the party at bay.

She banked upon her government’s 10-year track record that saw a huge infrastructure boom like flyovers, new roads and a wide metro rail network in the national capital.

Many say that she headed probably the best performing Congress government in the country. In the last 10 years, her government has stayed free of any major scandal.

“Sheila Dikshit is the greatest mascot of a clean chief minister in the country. Under her the national capital has witnessed huge development and Delhi has become a global city,” said M. Veerappa Moily, Congress media cell chairman.

Another quality she is credited for is the dexterity with which she handled the several factions in the party’s Delhi unit.

Dikshit ran through the two terms in power without any real threat to her leadership from any faction. This also helped when she staved off all pulls and pressures to get many of her supporters party tickets to contest the elections.

“Besides a good administrator she (Dikshit) is a good human being. She is a great team leader who tries to carry everyone with her,” said Delhi Congress chief J.P Aggarwal.

Bureaucrats say Dikshit is a very meticulous person and particular about every small thing in the office.

“She is very punctual and wants things to be done within a time frame. She personally takes interest in important projects and always ready to learn,” a senior bureaucrat in Delhi government said.

According to veteran Congress leader Karan Singh: “It is history that an incumbent chief minister has won for the third time in a row and all credit goes to Sheila Dikshit and her hard work.”

An early-riser, Dikshit starts her day with yoga and meditation which helps her work tirelessly for 14 to 15 hours everyday.

But she always squeezed in quality time for her children and grandchildren especially for lunch and dinner. Dikshit is also a movie buff and snatches away some hours to watch them. This was true even during the hectic campaign for the elections.

Born in an apolitical family in Punjab’s Kapurthala district March 31, 1938, Dikshit graduated from the Convent of Jesus and Mary, New Delhi, and pursued her Masters in Arts from Miranda House, Delhi University.

She was a teacher before she plunged into politics by default after her marriage to bureaucrat Vinod Dikshit, son of former union minister and governor, Uma Shankar Dikshit.

Dikshit was a MP from Kannauj constituency in Uttar Pradesh between 1984 and 1989. Following her close proximity to the then prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, she was made a minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office.

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