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Sheila Dikshit: Brilliant Administrator But Embroiled With The Corrupt

As many of you prepare to vote for the Delhi Assembly elections scheduled on Dec 4th, Mission Sharing Knowledge brings you a series that throws more light on the profile & achievements of the three Chief Ministerial candidates.

We start this series with the current & longest-serving CM of Delhi, Mrs. Sheila Dikshit. A teacher before she plunged into politics, Dikshit’s administrative skills was even admired by former Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi & Mr. Rajiv Gandhi. Dikshit’s father-in-law Uma Shankar Dikshit was a veteran freedom fighter and one of the close aides of Indira Gandhi. It was Indira Gandhi who nominated Sheila Dikshit to the Indian delegation at the UN Commission on Status of Women.

Sheila Dikshit was born in Kapurthala in 1938, and graduated with a Master of Arts degree in History from the Miranda House at the University of Delhi. During 1984-1989, she represented Kannauj Parliamentary Constituency of Uttar Pradesh. Her skills were widely acknowledged by Congress leaders and a number of important jobs were given to her in many committees. She also served as a Union Minister during 1986–89. In 1990, she, along with her colleagues, were jailed in Uttar Pradesh for more than 20 days when she led a movement against the atrocities being committed on women.

Sheila Dikshit had sailed the Congress party many a time through the rough waters and in the Grand Old Party, no one else has the record of a hat-trick term in the top office of a state other than two other CMs from Bihar & Rajasthan.

Her government is being credited with developing infrastructure and better transport facilities to Delhi with the Metro Rail topping the list. During her government’s tenure, Delhi saw a huge infrastructure boom including flyovers and new roads, helping her gain an edge over her competitors. Focusing on reforms in various sectors, Dikshit strived hard for involvement of people in decision-making by introducing concept of bhagidari (partnership) with Resident Welfare Associations. Sheila Dikshit’s one of the biggest achievement remains when she transformed the whole public transportation system in Delhi to cleaner CNG-fuelled one. However, some of her pet projects like BRTS were embroiled in a controversy with her detractors and opposition parties alleging that it was a ‘mismanaged’ project. Her party members for having handled several factions in the party’s Delhi unit effectively also credit her.

With lots of achievements in her feathers, Dikshit’s recent years in power have been controversial and filled with corruption charges. In 2009 Advocate Sunita Bhardwaj, a BJP activist, of misusing funds sanctioned by the central government for Rajiv Ratan Awas Yojana for personal advertisements, accused her. In 2013 she was found guilty by the ombudsmen court, which ordered an FIR against her. In 2009 Dikshit was criticized when she granted parole to Manu Sharma, who was accused of murdering Jessica Lal.

But her biggest blow came during the CWG in 2010 when the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) allegedly accused Dikshit of corruption and irregularities related to street-light equipment that were imported for the city during the Commonwealth Games.

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