Dikshit & Swaraj: Ideologically Different But Of Same Genre

SATPAL

Delhi had to face substantial loss due to passing away of the two humane and caring women leaders in a period of less than 20 days. Mrs Sheila Dikshit and Mrs Sushma Swaraj both served Delhi as its Chief Minister after BJP high command decided to shift the then Chief Minister Sahib Singh to the Centre as Cabinet Minister in mid-October 1998.

Soon after resigning as Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Mrs. Swaraj became BJP Chief Minister in Delhi on 13th October; she remained in power for just 52 days. The Congress under the leadership of Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee, Mrs Dikshit secured thumping majority by winning 52 out of 70 seats in the 2nd Vidhan Sabha elections held in November 1998 by unseating the ruling BJP Government facing the wrath of the citizens due to the high price of onions and much deteriorated state of affairs of the electricity and water supply and public transport.

Mrs. Dikshit completed the three consecutive 5-year terms of Chief Minister and relinquished her charge on 28th December 2013. The Congress led by the Chief Minister was dethroned in the 5th Vidhan Sabha elections in the hands of the new Aam Aadmi Party borne out of the agitation of Anna Hazare, a crusader against corruption. 

In fact, in a hung house Arvind Kejriwal could become Chief Minister only with outside support of 8 members of the Congress legislature party. The writer had opportunities to work with the first women CM Swaraj and the 2nd women CM Dikshit. In fact, Delhi lost the three former CMs in less than a period of one year; former CM Madan Lal Khurana of the BJP was the first to leave for his heavenly abode on 27th October 2018.

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Both Dikshit and Swaraj were liberal, caring, sharing and humane in their approach though former could duly concentrate on the welfare of the citizens and longer lasting developmental projects since She devoted her energy during her long tenure of 15 years but the later held office for just 52 days which she devoted on election campaign for her party and wiping out the tears of onions. It would be unjustified to state that Swaraj did minuscule efforts in making administration well-oiled but one has to take in to consideration that her party was divided in the factions and her hands were tied up during the days when Model Code of Conduct was in force.

Moreover, Swaraj had to face anti- incumbency of the then government of her party and Congress was looking strong. However, Swaraj established her supremacy in the governance while holding different posts in the Union Government.

Dikshit earned lot of accolades for her Bhagidari initiative, creating world class infrastructure in pre and post CW Games period, reviving the Metro project lying dumped in the cold storage, providing reliable supply of water and power, introduction of CNG and transformation of the public transport system, commissioning around 75 new age flyovers, underpasses, magnificent Foot over Bridges, 8 new universities, 8 super specialty hospitals, concerted action against pollution, women empowerment and school education, the list is quite long to mention all.

Swaraj excelled while working as External affairs Minister by making herself easily available to provide relief to the persons in distress due to hassles in getting visa and passports in the country and outside.

Swaraj exhibited her oratory skill while being the leader of opposition in Lok Sabha and in the UN whereas the words of Dikshit in the public meetings used to enter deep in to the minds and hearts of people creating a magical effect. Swaraj and Dikshit both had their friends and supporters in the parties opposed to their own party. Both were known for taking up the current and relevant social issues without caring for their party’s views on the issues. Both women leaders had also earned most revered status among all politicians above party lines. Swaraj and Dikshit both had lacs of well- wishers across the country and their contacts were not confined to their native states and states where they had been in position.

Both were close to their party high command and were capable enough to get their proposed decisions approved easily from the top party leaders. Swaraj had a free access to the party high ups and Dikshit was considered as an extension to her high command.

Both Dikshit and Swaraj being political personality earlier had their stints in UP and Haryana and earned prominence after winning elections in Delhi Assembly elections and Lok Sabha elections respectively. Dikshit contested Lok Sabha elections from the two states – UP and Delhi whereas Swaraj contested from 4 states – Haryana, Delhi, Karnataka and MP.

Both women leaders had mixed luck as they emerged both victorious and were also defeated in Lok Sabha elections. Dikshit was appointed twice to the post of President Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee at the age of 60 and 80 whereas Swaraj became Haryana BJP President once that too in the age of 28.

Dikshit was given responsibilities of MOS Parliamentary Affairs and later MOS in PM office prior to entering Delhi politics whereas Swaraj had already worked as a Cabinet Minister in Haryana before joining electoral turf in Delhi during 1996 Lok Sabha elections. Anyhow, they had an attractive and suave personality which made them inseparable part of the social and cultural life of the capital city- Delhi. Both the women leaders would always be remembered in all times to come.

 

(The writer worked as Information Officer to both Sheila Dikshit and Sushma Swaraj) 

 

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