“Rarely does history bring together compassion, statesmanship, efficiency and stamina in one person. Sheila (Dikshit) ji was one such example in recent times,” said UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi while delivering the Sheila Dikshit Memorial Speech in New Delhi.
“My association with Sheilaji is longer than my political career. It goes back many decades which have left behind a rich legacy of memories -- from the days when Indira ji recognized her many talents, to her close working relationship with Rajiv ji. In the momentous 1984 election, she became an MP from Kannauj and was soon entrusted with ministerial responsibility,” Sonia Gandhi said.
Dikshit passed away in New Delhi on July 20 at the age of 81. She has not been keeping well for quite some time.
“As for myself she stood by my side in my darkest years, later urging me again and again to take on the presidentship of the Congress party. When I did, she was there guiding me more like an elder sister than party colleague,” she recalled.
Gandhi said that Dikshit served as the chief minister of Delhi for an unprecedented 15 years and fulfilled her responsibilities “like no one before or since” has done.
“Her years at the helm became her crowning achievement. She was not only the best and most effective chief minister we have had, she was able to reach out to and be respected by people across the political spectrum. Her vision and hard work transformed the Indian capital into a thriving and efficient metropolis, making it a better place for all its inhabitants. We who live here and benefited remain grateful and proud of her accomplishments,” Gandhi said.
She said that in the most recent elections this year, Dikshit stepped forward like a loyal soldier of the party to contest a Lok Sabha seat even though she had not been too well.
“Sheila ji’s life teaches us that that there is nothing more worthy for a public person than genuine service of the people. Delhi and the Congress party won't be the same without Sheila ji. The city has lost its most able administrator and the party has lost one of its most committed workers,” she said.
“We will miss her, but we are grateful that she was among us and that her memory will continue to inspire us,” she added.