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Supporters throng Yamuna to pay last respects

Supporters throng Yamuna to pay last respects

New Delhi: Teary-eyed supporters and admirers crowded Nigambodh Ghat on a gloomy Sunday afternoon, drenched in rain, setting aside their political differences to pay their last respects to three-time Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit as her last rites were performed. Starting from party workers who had worked with Dikshit for years to BJP politicians who came forward to acknowledge her contributions to the city, everyone at the funeral site on the banks of Yamuna had just one thing to say: "Delhi would not be what it is today without Sheila Ji".

"What can I say? I have only praises for her (Sheila). She has done so much for Delhi and its residents," said 77-year-old businessman KK Biraj, sitting on a bench at the burning ghat with a heavy heart. He said that in her 15 years as Chief Minister, Dikshit had selflessly accomplished so much for the city and its people. "She made Delhi her own and served it even though she was not originally from here," Biraj said.

In fact, BJP leader Shakeel Anjum Dehalvi (60), formerly from Aam Aadmi Party, who was also at Nigambodh Ghat for the last rites said that Dikshit had a way of working that cut through political lines very clearly when it came to developing the city she loved. "You see, despite our political differences, nobody can ever deny what Sheilaji has done for Delhi and Delhiites. I am from Delhi and I have seen the way she has tirelessly served this city. We are all here to acknowledge that service and pay our respects to the tall leader that she was," he said.

Overwhelmed by the moment, Nikita Kumari of the DPCC Mahila Morcha said that she did not have words to describe what Dikshit meant to her and her party. "It is custom that women don't enter the burning ghat. But I am here with so many other women who knew her, worked with her, and greatly admired her. This is how much she meant to us," she said.

Varuna Gupta, another member of the women's wing said, "I can't think of another leader, who would give their time to every single party worker. She worked with us at every step of the way - Sheila Ji was a true ground leader." Kumari added that she was in Sonbhadra supporting Priyanka Gandhi but rushed to Delhi when news of Dikshit's death broke.

Admirers present at Nigambodh Ghat fondly remembered her work, which made Delhi what it is today. Balloo Singh (39), Congress Seva Dal worker from Karol Bagh said that schemes like Ladli Yojana, Bhagidari Yojana, and many more were spearheaded by Dikshit. However, most people remembered her for her affectionate nature and strong leadership that took Delhi's infrastructure into the 21st Century.

Uma Sharma, a DPCC worker said, "The roads we travel on; the flyovers that connected this city throughout; the metro-none of it would have been possible without Sheila Ji. There was nothing before she took up the mantle to make our city truly modern."

Mahmood Hasan (60), a resident of Mustafabad in North East Delhi who was at Nigambodh Ghat for the funeral, said that the vision to connect all districts in Delhi was something that Dikshit had implemented.

"She never made anyone feel like they were working for her. We always felt like part of the family, and she made sure everyone who worked with her felt that way," he said.

Another supporter, Sudhir had travelled from Haryana to attend the funeral and said that there was a time when people in Gurugram and Noida always worried about how to get to the Capital, but "Sheilaji had the vision to connect these cities". Delhiites from all walks of life came together at Nigamobodh Ghat and Dikshit, in her death, had made sure that people set aside their differences, political or otherwise and take a look at how far Delhi has come and the road ahead for the Capital.

Anup Verma

Anup Verma

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