With moist eyes, Delhi bids adieu to Sheila Dikshit

New Delhi: The mortal remains of former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit were consigned to flames on Sunday, with colleagues, Congress workers and admirers braving heavy rains and gusty winds to bid her final farewell. The 81-year-old Congress veteran, who died on Saturday due to cardiac arrest, was cremated with full state honours at the Nigambodh Ghat. Top Congress leaders, including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, were present at the funeral.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia and Home Minister Satyendar Jain were among those who attended the last rites. A large number of party workers were gathered at the site despite torrential rains. Earlier, paying homage to Dikshit, Sonia Gandhi said the three-time chief minister of Delhi was a friend and like an elder sister to her. Her demise was a big loss to the Congress party, she said. BJP patriarch L K Advani and former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj also visited Dikshit's residence and paid tributes to her.

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. Friends and admirers fondly recalled their interactions with Dikshit during her 15 years stint as the chief minister of the national capital. Dikshit's friend Anastasia Gill, former Delhi Minority Commission member, said, she will remember the Congress leader for her strong character and determination. "Sheila treated everyone equally and it was 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 visited her residence and was accompanied by Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari. 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.

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