Sushma Swaraj was available just a tweet away

Former Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj (Reuters Photo)

On May 30 this year when Sushma Swaraj walked into the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan, all eyes were on her.

Till then there was no word on whether she would get a second term in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s team.

RIP Sushma Swaraj: Former EAM passes away at 67

Without betraying any emotions, she walked briskly but did not walk towards the chairs earmarked for ministers, but walked to those put up for the VIPs.

This spiked the rumour, which was in circulation throughout the day, that she is making a comeback though she did not contest the Lok Sabha elections.

Within a couple of days, she vacated her official residence and moved to a private house, signalling a new inning of her life devoid of the hurly-burly of active politics.

She did that only after making a mark as a citizen-friendly external affairs minister.

Swaraj (67) was always a tweet away for those stranded abroad. It became a routine that she attended to tweets while directing embassy officials to address concerns.

A section derided her as "Twitter Minister" as the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had usurped her territory. Major policy decisions were taken at the PMO and Sushma, a close confidant of BJP patriarch L K Advani was never allowed to accompany Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

She might have been forced to play second fiddle to the PMO on policy matters, but it was her persuasive political skills that helped the BJP make the landmark constitutional amendment bill on India-Bangladesh border a reality.

Sushma also made efforts to ease the process for citizens to acquire passports.

It was during her tenure as the external affairs minister that the Modi government removed Sujatha Singh as foreign secretary and brought in S Jaishankar.

In 2019, the same Jaishankar was chosen by Modi to replace Sushma.

Modi remembered Sushma in a tweet saying, "I can’t forget the manner in which Sushma Ji worked tirelessly as EAM (external affairs minister) in the last 5 years. Even when her health was not good, she would do everything possible to do justice to her work and remain up to date with matters of her ministry. The spirit and commitment were unparalleled.”

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