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Sunday, Aug 25, 2019

The woman who changed the way Delhi travels

Sheila Dikshit will be remembered for transforming the infrastructure and landscape of Delhi during her stewardship of the city.

delhi Updated: Jul 21, 2019 00:59 IST
Kapil Sibal
Kapil Sibal
New Delhi
Sheila Dikshit will be remembered not just for changing the face of Delhi, but also for having kept the Congress party flock together.
Sheila Dikshit will be remembered not just for changing the face of Delhi, but also for having kept the Congress party flock together. (Kaushik Ramaswamy / HT Archive)
         

Sheila Dikshit will be remembered not just for changing the face of Delhi, but also for having kept the Congress party flock together. She was a thoughtful, sensitive and humane person. As a politician, she will be remembered for transforming the infrastructure and landscape of Delhi during her stewardship of the city.

Her greatest contribution was changing the way Delhi travels. Delhi Metro started with only an 8 km track in 2002 and has become the capital’s lifeline 17 years later. The flyovers and the under-passes represented not just connectivity through infrastructure; they connected with the hearts of the people and made the city’s residents aspirational.

The metro, one of the biggest rapid transport networks in the world, demonstrated Sheila Dikshit’s embrace of modernity. Yet her heart never forgot our cultural traditions and the aesthetic shades of India’s diversity. It was her ability as a leader of the Congress Party that allowed the diverse population in Delhi to live together in peace. All communities and sections of the society, no matter which belief they espoused, were dealt with evenly. Her connect with both the minority and majority communities across Delhi was visible wherever she went. Be it businesspeople, small traders or manual workers, all had confidence that she would address their problems sincerely. She was quiet, yet firm and lent her ear to everybody, but finally did what was right.

Fifteen years is a long time for any one serve as chief minister. After losing the Delhi elections to the Aam Aadmi Party, she continued to keep in touch with all of us to make the Congress party strong again in the capital. With the change in administration, the residents of Delhi realised her enormous contribution to the city.

She was not belligerent by nature, but a consensus builder. When the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was in power at the Centre during her tenure as chief minister, she was never at odds with the Union government. For her, persuasion was the way forward. There were no spats between her and the central government, something that became the norm in later years. She would persuade others to understand her point of view and more often than not, succeed.

She has left a void, not just in the lives of those who were personally close to her, but in the entire Congress Party. She will be remembered for her gentle ways as well as her ability to get things done. Most of all, the residents of Delhi will miss her as someone who thought of them all the time with only one objective in mind - how to improve the lives of ordinary people. My heart goes out to the bereaved family, the void in whose lives can never be filled.

She was like a mother to some, for others a sister, but for all of us in the Congress, a companion in politics who always wanted to keep the flock together. We will always remember her benign demeanour and the warmth of her smile.

May her soul rest in peace!

First Published: Jul 21, 2019 00:31 IST

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