Sonia Gandhi recalls warm relations with Sushma Swaraj

Senior Congress leader Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday recalled veteran BJP leader Sushma Swaraj's oratorical skills and the warm relationship she enjoyed with here despite being on the opposite sides of the political spectrum. PTI file photo

Senior Congress leader Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday recalled veteran BJP leader Sushma Swaraj's oratorical skills and the warm relationship she enjoyed with here despite being on the opposite sides of the political spectrum.

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In a condolence letter to Sushma's husband Swaraj Kaushal, Sonia remembered the former external affairs minister as a “lady of extraordinary gifts” whose warm personal qualities brought “special lustre to her years in public and political life”.

“Sushma Swaraj was a lady of extraordinary gifts, her courage, determination, dedication and ability manifest in every position she held,” said Sonia, who is the leader of the Congress Party in Parliament.

Sushma had contested the 1999 Lok Sabha elections against Sonia in Bellary, but lost with a margin of 56,100 votes. Sushma's defeat was certain as Bellary was then a Congress stronghold, but the narrow margin was a testimony to her campaign in which she addressed rallies in Kannada.

“Sushma ji was a superb orator, a great parliamentarian and had a rare gift for friendship that won her affection and admiration across the political spectrum,” Sonia said.

She said that Sushma left “far too young” as she had so much more to contribute to national life.

“That makes her death even more tragic,” she said recalling the many years they spent together as colleagues in the Lok Sabha, during which they had developed a warm personal relationship.

“...and I feel her loss greatly.” the Congress leader said.

She noted Sushma had made herself accessible to even the humblest person and established a warm rapport with people from all walks of life.

“The same courage and grit that was a hallmark of Sushma-ji's political life, she showed in her personal life as well, as she faced her serious ailments with incredible fortitude,” Sonia said.

Expressing grief to Sushma's husband and daughter Bansuri, the UPA chairperson termed it a "cruel loss" for them.

“You must draw solace from the fact that Sushma-ji lived a life of honour, filled with achievement and contributions to the country she loved; respected and admired by all Indians,” she said.

“And she went as she had lived— active and engaged till the very end,” the Congress leader said.

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