New Delhi: Congress senior leader and three-time Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit passed away in Delhi this afternoon around 3:30 PM. Dikshit's family confirmed the news. She was 81.
Dikshit who holds the record of being Delhi's longest-serving chief minister was at the helm of affairs between 1998 and 2013. She was succeeded by Aam Aadmi Party's Arvind Kejriwal.
Condolences poured in from various quarters after the demise of former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit on Saturday, with President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi recalling the "momentous transformation" of the national capital during her tenure.
A host of leaders cutting across party lines, including Prime Minister Modi, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Delhi chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, paid their last respects at her residence in Nizamuddin where her body was kept.
A veteran Congress leader, Dikshit (81) died after suffering a cardiac arrest at a private hospital here Saturday afternoon.
Offering condolences to Dikshit's family and associates, President Kovind said, "Her term in office was a period of momentous transformation for the capital for which she will be remembered." Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu hailed her as "a good administrator". "I express my profound sorrow and grief over the demise of former Chief Minister of Delhi," the vice president's secretariat said in a tweet.
In a tweet, Modi said, "Deeply saddened by the demise of Sheila Dikshit Ji. Blessed with a warm and affable personality, she made a noteworthy contribution to Delhi's development." Modi also visited Dikshit's residence to pay his last respect.
Former prime minister and Dikshit's party colleague Manmohan Singh said that in her death, the country has lost "a dedicated Congress leader of the masses".
"People of Delhi will always remember her contribution to the development during her three tenures as Chief Minister of Delhi," Singh added.
Dikshit served as Delhi's chief minister for 15 years from 1998-2013. She also served as Governor of Kerala.
Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also condoled her demise.
"I am devastated to hear about the passing away of Sheila Dikshit Ji, a beloved daughter of the Congress Party, with whom I shared a close personal bond. My condolences to her family & the citizens of Delhi, whom she served selflessly as a three-term chief minister, in this time of great grief," Rahul tweeted.
Priyanka, who was in Uttar Pradesh, told reporters in Varanasi, "She was a tall leader of the Congress. Her contributions to the party, to the politics of the entire nation, especially Delhi, will always be remembered." Later she tweeted, "Sheila ji will always be remembered for her years of exemplary governance and immense contribution to the development of Delhi. I will miss her wise counsel, her sweet smile and the warmth with which she would hug me whenever we met." Former president Pranab Mukherjee said, "I am saddened and shocked at the passing away of Smt Sheila Dikshit. A former Union Minister, 3 time CM and Governor, in her death I have lost a long time friend and colleague. My thoughts are with her aggrieved family and friends." Expressing his condolences, former prime minister and JD(S) chief H D Deve Gowda said she was "one of the greatest women leaders in the country".
BJP president and Union Home Minister Amit Shah said, "I am extremely saddened at the demise of former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit. I express my condolences to her families and supporters. May god give strength to her family in this hour of grief." BJP veteran L K Advani remembered Dikshit as an able administrator who made "immense contribution" to the development of Delhi.
Expressing his deep sadness at her demise, he noted in a statement that he was the Union home minister when she became the chief minister and they shared a very warm and cordial working relationship.
"An able administrator, she made immense contribution to the development of Delhi. Apart from many other achievements in her long career in public life, Sheila-ji will be remembered as a fine human being," Advani said.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said she was "a tall Congress leader known for her congenial nature. Sheila-ji was widely respected cutting across party lines." Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Dikshit's demise "is a huge loss for Delhi and her contribution will always be remembered".
Kejriwal succeeded Dikshit as Delhi's chief minister.
Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari, who defeated Dikshit in the recent Lok Sabha polls, called her "a mother figure". "Delhi will miss you Ma'am, you were a mother figure in my life," he said.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah said he has always known her as a very warm and affectionate lady.
Former cricketer Virender Sehwag also expressed condolences. "Sad to hear about the passing away of #SheilaDixit ji. Heartfelt condolences to her family and loved ones," Sehwag said.
Bollwyood actor Akshay Kumar said, "Extremely sad to know about the passing away of #SheilaDixit ji...she effectively changed the face of Delhi during her tenure. Heartfelt condolences to her family." Union minister Nitin Gadkari expressed grief at the death of Dikshit. "Her contribution to the development of Delhi will always be remembered," Gadkari tweeted.
Senior BJP leader Vijay Kumar Malhotra, who was Leader of Opposition in Dikshit's last term as CM, said its a personal loss for him and a great loss to the Delhi people as she was a icon of development in the city.
"I knew her for nearly four decades. I called her a week ago and told her she should not have contested LS polls. She told me she could not have avoided the responsibility given to her by her party. There are few politicians who are dedicated to their party to the extent she was," he said.
Former Vice President Hamid Ansari said she was an eminent public figure and "proved herself as great administrator and an empathetic leader".
BJP working president J P Nadda said, "Deeply saddened by the demise of Sheila Dikshit Ji. Condolences to her family and supporters in this hour of grief. May her soul rest in peace." Union minister Prakash Javedekar said Dikshit "was respected by all the parties." Dikshit's party colleague and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said, "Deeply shocked and anguished to know about the demise of Sheila Dixit Ji. it is a great loss for Congress Party. She was a mass leader and would be hugely missed. May her soul RIP and may God give strength to the bereaved family." Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot hailed her as "a true Congress person" who "worked tirelessly building Delhi into a world class city, yet her heart was always set on working for the people".
In a condolence message, Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik described Dikshit as a widely respected public figure whose contribution for the development of Delhi will always be remembered.
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao also expressed heartfelt condolences to Dikshit's family.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said she "has made a tremendous contribution to the city of Delhi and millions of its people. Her absence will be deeply felt. Personally too, it is a very sad day." Former Union minister and BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said, "We were opponents in politics but friends in personal life. She was a fine human being." Veteran Congress leader Karan Singh said, "I am deeply grieved by the passing away of Sheila-ji. I have known her for over half a century. She was a remarkable person. What she has done for Delhi will be remembered. She really changed the face of Delhi. She was full of energy and dynamism despite her increasing age. Many of us told her she shouldn't stand for elections but because her party wanted she did stand and put up a fight. Till the very end she was a fighter, deeply committed to party." Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat and several other political leaders from the state expressed grief at Dikshit's demise.
Condoling her death Rawat said he was pained to hear about her demise.
Senior Congress leader and Former Uttarkhand chief minister Harish Rawat said he was deeply aggrieved at the sudden death of Dikshit.
Describing her death as a big loss to the party, he said her contribution to the development of Delhi cannot be forgotten.
Former Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje tweeted, "Saddened by the demise... I convey my sincere condolences to her family in this hour of grief." Former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal also condoled Dikshit's demise.
"Dikshit was respected across party lines because of her mature personality and ability to listen to all points of view," the former Punjab CM said. PTI