Affable BJP leader bids goodbye

Former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who brought the elite corridors of diplomacy to the aid of the common man, breathed her last at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences here on Tuesday night. She was 67.

RIP Sushma Swaraj: Former EAM passes away at 67

 A fiery orator, Sushma began her political innings in her student days and earned the distinction of becoming the youngest cabinet minister at the age of 25. She was the Labour and Employment Minister in the Haryana government formed by the Janata Party in 1977.

 The diminutive Sushma had a long list of achievements to her credit – being the first woman chief minister of Delhi, the deputy leader of the BJP in Rajya Sabha, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and finally as External Affairs Minister during the first term of the Narendra Modi government between 2014-19.

 A seven-time Member of Parliament, Sushmaj had also served as the information and broadcasting ministry under Atal Bihari Vajpayee till 2003. She was also the Minister of Health, Family Welfare and Parliamentary Affairs from January 2003 until May 2004.

Sushma chose not to contest in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections due to health reasons as she was recovering from a kidney transplant.

However, she was active till her final moments, having greeted Modi on the passage of the J&K Reorganisation Bill just hours before she suffered a heart attack late on Tuesday evening.

“Thank you Prime Minister. Thank you very much. I was waiting to see this day in my lifetime,” she said minutes after the Lok Sabha adopted a resolution stripping J&K of the special status it enjoyed under article 370 of the Constitution and passed the bill to bifurcate the state into two union territories.

Before the arrival of Modi on the national scene, Sushmaj was being groomed as the generation next leader by veteran leader L K Advani. She, along with Arun Jaitley, Ananth Kumar, Uma Bharti were among her contemporaries.

Sushma had famously contested the Bellary Lok Sabha seat against Congress president Sonia Gandhi who was making her electoral debut in 1999. Sushma gathered a national profile after the contest after giving a tough fight to Gandhi, who won the seat by a narrow margin of 56,100 votes.

Five years later, when Gandhi had a chance to become prime minister, Swaraj had threatened to tonsure her head if a person of foreign origin assumed the coveted post, which later went to Manmohan Singh.

Comments (+)