Prominent Indian politician Dikshit dies

Prominent Indian politician Sheila Dikshit, Delhi's longest-serving chief minister, has died.
Prominent Indian politician Sheila Dikshit, Delhi's longest-serving chief minister, has died.

Sheila Dikshit, former chief minister of Delhi and a senior leader of the Indian National Congress party, has died at the age of 81.

Dikshit died of a cardiac arrest on Saturday, a spokesman for the Fortis Escorts Heart Institute in Delhi said.

As the longest-serving chief minister of Delhi, Dikshit held office for three consecutive terms from 1998 to 2013.

Tributes poured in from across political affiliations. "Lifelong congresswoman and as three time CM of Delhi she transformed the face of Delhi," India's main opposition Congress party said in a tweet.

"Blessed with a warm and affable personality, she made a noteworthy contribution to Delhi's development," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

Dikshit was elected to parliament for the first time in 1984. She was a close associate of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and served as a minister in his cabinet.

Born in Kapurthala in Punjab state on March 31, 1938, Dikshit attended school and college in Delhi.

She was initiated into politics by her father-in-law Uma Shankar Dikshit, a veteran Congress leader.

Sheila Dikshit led the Congress party to victory in local elections in Delhi in 1998, defeating the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party.

After serving as chief minister of Delhi for three terms, she and the Congress party lost power to the newly-formed Aam Aadmi Party in 2013.

Dikshit also led the party's campaign in Delhi in the recent general elections.

Australian Associated Press