Sheila Dikshit, three-time chief minister of Delhi, who is credited with the "all-round" development of the national capital was cremated with full state honours on Sunday after she passed away due to a cardiac arrest on Saturday.
Family members, colleagues, Congress workers, and admirers braved heavy rains and gusty winds to bid her a final farewell at the national capital's oldest cremation ground, Nigambodh Ghat. As per her wish, the Congress leader was laid to rest using the CNG method.
The 81-year-old Congress veteran was paid tributes by top Congress leaders, including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who were also present at the funeral. Union home minister Amit Shah, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia and Delhi home minister Satyendar Jain were among those who attended the last rites.
Earlier on Sunday, paying homage to Dikshit, Sonia said that she was a "friend and like an elder sister" to her. Her demise was a big loss to the Congress party, she said.
"I used to look up to her for advice in politics. She became like an elder sister and a friend. I am sure all my colleagues will also miss her. Apart from politics, she had a great fondness for the arts which made her different from other politicians. Of course, Delhi will never forget her for the work she did here. She literally transformed Delhi," Sonia said.
Leaders across party lines paid tributes to the stalwart as BJP patriarch LK Advani and former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj visited Dikshit's residence and paid tributes to her. National Conference's Omar Abdullah and Communist Party of India's D Raja also paid their respects to her on Sunday at her residence.
Dikshit's body was taken to the Congress headquarters where top party leaders, including Manmohan Singh, chief ministers Ashok Gehlot and Kamal Nath, paid their respects. Later, the body was taken to the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee office, the city unit which she was heading at the time of her death.
Delhi: UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra & Robert Vadra at Nigambodh Ghat where last rites of former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit were performed, today. pic.twitter.com/XWlRZHtmBx
" ANI (@ANI) July 21, 2019
Congress leaders Ajay Maken, Arvinder Singh Lovely, and Kapil Sibal also paid tributes to Dikshit at the party headquarters. Friends and admirers fondly recalled their interactions with Dikshit during her 15-year stint as the chief minister of the national capital.
Former Delhi Chief Minister and Congress leader Sheila Dikshit was cremated with state honours, today. pic.twitter.com/AXvidT6ubO
" ANI (@ANI) July 21, 2019
Dikshit's friend Anastasia Gill, former Delhi minority commission member, said that she will remember the Congress leader for her strong character and determination. "Sheila treated everyone equally and it was due to her determination that she could fight back the allegations of corruption during her third term as chief minister," Gill said.
Congress worker Virender Kumar Chaudhary, who is physically challenged, recollected his visit to Dikshit four days ago. He reminisced how Dikshit ensured cycles for the physically challenged and her assistance in securing admission for his daughter at a college in 2008.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited her residence, accompanied by Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari.
On Saturday, Sonia wrote to Dikshit's son Sandeep condoling his mother's death. She said, "I write to you with my heart filled with grief and a great sense of loss, for your beloved mother occupied a huge space in it. I came to share my husband's regard for Sheilaji and to value her very special gifts as I developed my own close relationship with her....She worked with such vision and dedication to transform Delhi, to make it a much better place to live in for all its citizens, including the poorest, and that tremendous achievement remains her lasting legacy."
The Delhi government on Saturday declared a two-day mourning period in the national capital as a mark of respect for Sheila.
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 was credited for national capital's growing infrastructure including roads and flyovers and a better public transport system. The concept of CNG to curb pollution was introduced in the national capital by Dikshit during her tenure. She initiated green reforms in public transport sector, successfully accomplishing the shift from polluting vehicles to a CNG based fleet.
With inputs from agencies