The mortal remains of former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit were consigned to flames, last evening in New Delhi, with colleagues, Congress workers and admirers braving heavy rains and gusty winds to bid her final farewell.
The gathering included those she worked alongside, those she fought and those she fought for. As the hearse carrying the casket moved slowly from her house to the party headquarters towards the funeral, cries rang through the air, “Sheila Dikshit amar rahe.”
The 81-year-old Congress veteran, who died on Saturday due to cardiac arrest, was cremated with full state honours at the Nigambodh Ghat. As desired, she was consigned to flames in the CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) crematorium. Dikshit herself had initiated green reforms in public transport sector successfully to accomplish the shift from polluting vehicles to a CNG based fleet.
Top Congress leaders, including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra, were present at the funeral. Union home minister Amit Shah, Delhi Lieutenant governor Anil Baijal, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia, and city home minister Satyendar Jain were among those who attended the last rites.
A large number of party workers, mostly women, had 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, former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and National Conference’s Omar Abdullah also paid tributes at Dikshit’s residence.
Dikshit’s body was taken to the Congress headquarters where top party leaders 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.
Congress workers jostled to have a glimpse of their leader as the body was brought in a glass casket from her Nizaumuddin residence to 24 Akbar Road party headquarters. The truck carrying the casket moved slowly as the road was packed with supporters who chanted ‘Jab tak suraj chand rahega Sheila ji ka naam rahega’.