For people, who had expected this to be the autumn for the matriarch, it has played out as a bit of a shock. In her new avatar as the governor of Kerala, Delhi’s once grande dame Sheila Dikshit has slipped into her apolitical role with seeming grace and ease. In an olive and yellow saree, sitting in one of the many drawing rooms in the magnificent governor’s residence — once the home of the Travancore kings — she has been catching up on the things she missed out as an active politician.
The interest in what is going on is never far from the surface. She feels this is the most unpredictable election ever. She laments the excessive verbiage in these polls at the cost of discussion on policies and says she has no advice to offer to her son Sandeep Dikshit who is contesting the polls from East Delhi.
She passes her days reading everything from Mahatma Gandhi to PG Wodehouse and is yet to sink her teeth into Kerala authors. She recently went on a train journey to take in the gorgeous Kerala countryside. “I realise how truly national we have become when I see women here wearing salwar kameez and not the Kerala sari.” She is all alone here but says she is glad of the solitude after the thrust and parry of politics.
She is absolutely clear on one thing, she is through with active politics. “I am glad the party decided to send me here and I have no plans of playing any role in national politics again.”
Standing near the uncannily symmetrical frangipani trees, she points out the profusion of flowers and birds on the grounds. “I am engaged in documenting and restoring some of the treasures of this place, like paintings and books.” She hopes to get someone to document the flowers of the residence.
On the giant palms trees, predatory kites wait patiently. “Oh, look there is a raven, not a crow mind you,” she says, pointing to a bird that looks like it might be have stepped out of the famous Edgar Allen Poe poem.
She reads a number of newspapers, including HT, which she gets from Delhi. She may be out of active politics but she takes a keen interest in what is going on. She has no regrets about ending her glorious career with a stunning loss to a greenhorn like AAP’s Arvind Kerjiwal.
“I live for the moment,” she says. For the moment, she is zipping around, fulfilling her duties as the chancellor of 14 universities in the state and imbibing its culture. And when she can, she hopes to savour Kerala’s fabled cuisine.