In her passing away, Sushma Swaraj has left a strong message to women, especially those in politics. ‘Fight till your last breath, live for your ideals, help all those in need without any discrimination.’
These were the mantras of Sushma, who will be badly missed by the country. A powerful orator, an easily-accessible Minister and a politician of many firsts, Sushma was a loyal BJP soldier who was always ready to face a challenge. Her attachment to the party ideology and principles was apparent even hours before she passed away as she tweeted to congratulate Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the Centre’s move to revoke the special status for Jammu and Kashmir.
Heading the External Affairs Ministry in the previous regime of Modi, she left behind a legacy of an easily-accessible Minister who helped the diaspora in distress with her revolutionary social media outreach. Several path-breaking measures such as the passport infrastructure expansion and enhanced engagement with the East were the highlights of her tenure as External Affairs Minister. Sushma had many firsts to her credit such as being the youngest Cabinet Minister in the Haryana government, first woman Chief Minister of Delhi and the first woman spokesperson for a national political party in the country.
Always eager to take on a challenge, Sushma contested against the then Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Bellary in the 1999 Lok Sabha polls. Though she fell short of votes, she grew in stature. Long seen as a protege of veteran BJP leader L K Advani, she was also the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha between 2009-14.
Sushma, a law graduate who practised in the Supreme Court, was elected seven times as Member of Parliament and three times as Member of the Legislative Assembly. Her role in resolving the prickly Doklam standoff between the Indian and Chinese sides will be remembered. Though known to be a tough fighter in the political battlefield, Sushma was admired and respected across party lines. And, the condolences pouring in from various quarters prove just that.