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Sheila Dikshit: Profile

Press Trust of India

Posted: Dec 10, 2003 at 1842 hrs IST

Dubbed as an "outsider" by even sections within Congress, Sheila Dikshit demonstrated her popularity and prowness as she spearheaded Congress back to power in Delhi for the second consecutive time in an extraordinary feat.

Riding on the twin-plank of governance and development, 65-year-old Sheila became the first Chief Minister to get a second successive term to rule Delhi giving her party a two-third majority when Congress governments in three other states were swept out of power on an anti-incumbency wave.

Considered close to the Gandhi family that helped her keep her opponents within the party at bay, Dikshit single-handedly walked away with credit for an impressive show at the hustings.

Born in a non-political family in Punjab's Kapurthala district on March 31, 1938 as the eldest of three daughters, Sheila was exposed to politics after her marriage into the family of former Union Minister and Governor Uma Shankar Dikshit with his IAS officer son Vinod Dikshit.

She received her primary education at Delhi's convent of Jesus and Mary School and graduated from Miranda House, Delhi University and went on to obtain the post-graduation degree in history.

Sheila, who has shown considerable acumen in administrative and legislative matters, got involved in politics in a big way after the 1969 split in Congress.

Faced with one of the biggest challenges of her life, Indira Gandhi trusted only a handful of her supporters, including Uma Shankar Dikshit. As her father-in-law's workload increased manifold in the wake of this development, Sheila stepped in to assist him.

While managing Uma Shankar Dikshit's affairs, Sheila's potential was noticed by Indira Gandhi. Impressed by her work, Gandhi nominated Sheila as a member of the Indian delegation to the UN Commission on status of women.

She was a Member of Parliament representing Kannauj in Uttar Pradesh between 1984-89 and served as a minister in the Rajiv Gandhi government between 1986-89, first as Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and later with an additional charge as Minister of State in the PMO.

She also had the honour of chairing the Implementation Committee for Commemoration of 40 years of India's independence and Jawaharlal Nehru Centenary.

A dark horse, she was appointed president of faction-ridden Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) in May 1998, barely six months prior to the Assembly polls.

Controlling groupism in the party unit and helped by the anti-incumbency sentiment against the then BJP government mainly because of the onion crisis, Sheila led her party to an impressive victory grabbing 52 out of 70 seats at stake in the last Assembly polls.

Completing her first five-year-term on December 3, she has emerged as one of the most powerful Congress Chief Ministers.

While in power, her "mantra" has been good governance and development with promise to make Delhi rise to world-class standards.

Her government focused on reforms in various sectors and worked for involvement of people in decision-making by introducing concept of bhagidari (partnership) with Resident Welfare Associations (RWAS).

She used the concept to pursue her work to get Delhi rid of pollution and solves problems of encroachments.

E-governance was another of her government's priorities, which are aimed at doing away with corruption and installing a transparent government.

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