At a time when leaders switch sides every now and then, former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who died on Saturday, remained committed to Congress throughout her life, said BJP veteran Vijay Kumar Malhotra, one of the senior-most political figures in the national capital.
"It's a great loss to Delhi as well as to the whole country. It's a personal loss to me also," he told ANI.
Remembering his long political association with the three-time Delhi Chief Minister, Mr Malhotra said he had never seen such a commitment for the party as she had for the Congress.
"A few days back when I rung her and asked why did you contest Lok Sabha polls when you knew it was not a good time to contest, she told me - I can't defy my party which gave me so much. They asked me to become President and take on BJP from the front by contesting polls and I did so," he said.
According to Mr Malhotra, Ms Dikshit told him, "You are just like my brother that's why you are advising me but I have my commitments for the party."
Ms Dikshit was appointed Delhi Congress chief ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. She also unsuccessfully contested elections against Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari from North East Delhi parliamentary constituency.
Mr Malhotra, who was the Chief Executive Councillor of Delhi's Metropolitan Council (Chief Minister equivalent,1967), said she stood with her party during its difficult times which is very rare in today's politics.
"She was so committed to the party and that too at a time when every now and then people were leaving it. She stood by her party."
"Despite knowing this she was quite ill and had to go for treatment, she stood for the party in all difficult times and till her last breath. This is a great quality which is rare these days," he said.
Ms Dikshit was busy in revamping Delhi's party unit after being appointed state Congress chief. She held meetings with the senior party leaders till Thursday evening.
Recalling his personal equations with Ms Dikshit, Mr Malhotra said he enjoyed a good personal rapport despite being ideological opponents.
"I can't forget the days when she was the Chief Minister of Delhi and I was Leader of Opposition. As Members of Parliament, we used to discuss issues related to Delhi's development. She had a great love for Delhi," he said, remembering his 40 years' association with Ms Dikshit.
Mr Malhotra, an RSS cadre during his early days in politics, is considered one of the leaders besides Kedarnath Sahani and Madan Lal Khurana for the BJP's growth in the national capital.
Mr Malhotra has been a five-time Lok Sabha lawmaker and two-time assembly lawmaker from Delhi, over the past 45 years, making him one of BJP's senior-most figures in the capital.
His biggest political victory was defeating former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the 1999 Lok Sabha polls. Dr Singh participated in direct elections only once - in 1999 from South Delhi - and he lost to Mr Malhotra.
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