Sheila Dikshit: A timeline of her journey

Sheila Dikshit: A timeline of her journey

Credit: DH file photo

Former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit passed away in the national capital on Saturday afternoon. She was the longest-serving chief minister of Delhi, serving for a period of 15 years from 1998 to 2013. Let's look back at the life of one of India's most celebrated chief ministers.

1939 to 1962:

Sheila Kapoor (her maiden name) was born on March 31, 1938, in Kapurthala, Punjab, into a Punjabi Khatri family. She was educated at the Convent of Jesus and Mary School in New Delhi and graduated with a Master of Arts in History from Miranda House at the University of Delhi.
On July 11, 1962, she married Vinod Dikshit, son of former West Bengal Governor and independence activist Uma Shankar Dikshit. He was an officer in the Indian Administrative Service.

1984 to 1989:

Between 1984 and 1989, she represented the Kannauj Parliamentary Constituency of Uttar Pradesh. As a Member of Parliament, she served on the Estimates Committee of the Lok Sabha. She chaired the Implementation Committee for Commemoration of Forty Years of India's Independence and the Jawaharlal Nehru centenary. She represented India at the United Nations Commission on Status of Women for five years (1984–1989). She also served as a Union Minister from 1986 to 1989, first as the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and later as a Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office.

1990 to 1998:

She and 82 colleagues were jailed in August 1990 in Uttar Pradesh for 23 days by the state government when she led a movement against atrocities being committed on women.
In the 1998 parliamentary elections, she was defeated by the Bharatiya Janata Party's Lal Bihari Tiwari in the East Delhi Constituency.
Dikshit became the chief minister of Delhi in 1998. She represented the Gole Market Assembly Constituency in the 1998 Assembly elections.

2009:

In 2009, the Delhi Lokayukta (anti-corruption ombudsman) investigated a complaint filed by advocate Sunita Bhardwaj, a BJP worker, saying that Dikshit had embezzled 3.5 crores that she received from the Central Government under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission for Rajiv Ratan Awas Yojana to give out political advertisements. The Lokayukta later dropped the corruption claims.
Sunita Bhardwaj then tried to book Dikshit under the Representation of People’s Act, claiming that she had been "misrepresenting facts" about flats that her government had built for the urban poor. It was ruled by the Lokayukta that the government actions did not fall foul of the Act but it will try to book her under the Section 2(b) of the Act that stipulates adherence to norms of conduct and integrity expected of "public functionaries".
In November 2009, Dikshit came under criticism for granting parole to convicted murderer Manu Sharma after media reports emerged of him visiting nightclubs in Delhi. Sharma was jailed for murdering Jessica Lal and was serving a life sentence. Dikshit defended her decision to sign the parole papers, declaring nothing "illegal or unlawful" was done in extending the benefit to the prisoner. The Delhi High Court noted that she had given preferential treatment to Sharma in granting parole while neglecting such pleas of "poor" people languishing in jail for years. Asked about the high court's criticism of the decision, Dikshit justified her position, saying: "Whatever files I receive, they come through proper channels." She alleged that the Delhi lieutenant-governor was responsible for paving the way for Sharma's parole.

2010:

In 2010, Delhi hosted the Commonwealth Games that changed the infrastructure of the capital city. With newly constructed roads, expansion of the metro service and modernisation of Indira Gandhi International Airport among other developments, Delhi wore a new, revamped look. Later, she was accused of corruption regarding the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report allegedly blamed her for irregularities in imported equipment for street lighting in the city during the games, which were refuted by the Delhi Chief Secretary PK Tripathi.

2013:

In August 2013, the ombudsman court ordered an FIR to be filed against her and others for allegedly misusing government funds for an advertising campaign ahead of the 2008 Assembly elections. However, no charges were ever brought.
In the same year, she lost in the Delhi Legislative Assembly elections and Arvind Kejriwal, founder of the Aam Aadmi Party, won by a margin of 25,864 votes. She resigned on December 8 but remained as caretaker chief minister till the new government was sworn in on December 28, 2013.

2019:

In an interview in 2019, Dikshit said that the Nirbhaya case was blown out of proportion. In an interview with Mirror Now, she was quoted as saying, “There are so many cases like this taking place today. Sometimes you ignore rapes, just a little thing in the newspaper...little children being raped...and one was made into a political scandal."