There was not a single dry eye at the BJP headquarters on Wednesday when Sushma Swaraj’s family sent off their beloved wife and mother, and India’s former foreign minister, on her final journey with a passionate salute.
As a huge crowd made way for Swaraj’s cortege at Deen Dayal Upadhaya marg, her husband Swaraj Kaushal and daughter Bansuri stood in silent salute while state honours were accorded to the departed BJP stalwart.
Swaraj, known as the ‘people’s minister’ for her Twitter diplomacy as external affairs minister, passed away on Tuesday night suffering a massive cardiac arrest.
Swaraj was taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) around 9.30pm on Tuesday in a critical condition and was straight away taken to the emergency ward where a team of doctors attended to her but could not revive the astute politician.
“A glorious chapter in Indian politics comes to an end. India grieves the demise of a remarkable leader who devoted her life to public service and bettering lives of the poor. Sushma Swaraj ji was one of her kind, who was a source of inspiration for crores of people,” Modi said.
Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi described Swaraj as an extraordinary political leader, a gifted orator and an exceptional parliamentarian and said she had friendships across party lines.
Swaraj, who had a kidney transplant in 2016, had opted out of fighting the Lok Sabha elections this year due to health reasons.
She was not part of the Modi government this time and S Jaishankar replaced her as the External Affairs Minister. 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 the external affairs minister.
She was only the second woman to hold the portfolio after Indira Gandhi, who briefly kept the external affairs ministry under her while being the prime minister.
Swaraj 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.
She was married to Swaraj Kaushal, a designated senior advocate of the Supreme Court of India who served as Governor of Mizoram from 1990 to 1993. Kaushal was also a Member of Parliament from 1998 to 2004.