Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to be popular two years after taking charge but the story will be incomplete if we do not give due credit to those silent heroes in Modi's government who have helped him maintain its popularity.
The most prominent of those silent heroes is perhaps Sushma Swaraj---India's external affairs minister. Only the second woman to hold the important post, Swaraj can give Modi's rank as the best minister of his government a tough competition, thanks to her no-nonsense, hard-working and result-oriented approach.
Sushma Swaraj has never failed Indians in distress abroad
Beginning with the evacuation of Indian nurses from conflict-hit Iraq, Swaraj's tenure in the last two years has seen India successfully rescuing its nationals from various countries of West Asia besides individuals facing problems in countries like South Africa, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Germany and others. Indian even got requests from over 20 countries to evacuate their nationals from Yemen last year.
And it is just not about reaching out on the ground. The minister promptly addressed the issue whenever an Indian national found himself or herself in the middle of a crisis anywhere in the world and brought the matter to the notice of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Besides the rescue ops, Sushma has always given prelude to Modi's diplomatic feats
The rescue missions accompanied Swaraj's regular job of opening more diplomatic avenues across the globe and paving the way for PM Modi to accomplish diplomatic feats. As Swaraj said after completing a year in office, her tenure spoke of :fast-track diplomacy" and said it had three faces---proactive, strong and sensitive.
Swaraj's quick response to Maldives' water crisis in December 2014 and how she ensured India rushing drinking water to the maritime neighbour when it needed it the most is also one among the several examples of her high points in the last 24 months. It was in fact of those rare instances when India made it faster than China to respond to a challenge.
The way Sushma has written her story as the foreign minister is a lesson for Opposition as well
But it is not just the performance as the foreign minister which has given Swaraj an edge over many other ministers in the NDA government. In fact, the way Swaraj has paced her innings in an era when the entire government is identified with a single man, it could be a lesson for the Opposition leaders who are running out of patience with Modi---provided of course they are willing to learn.
Sushma Swaraj never competed with Modi but made her own space through hard work
Swaraj, who was known to be close to Lal Krishna Advani during the days when the BJP was divided over the rise of Modi through the ranks, shifted the focus once the latter became the PM. She has kept a low profile and has not played with the media to promote herself.
She knows fully well that India's foreign policy decisions are now orchestrated in the PMO and not the MEA and played it smartly by giving Modi the front space and focusing on the operations herself. She never made it an issue of personality clash which could have ruined all the hard work she has put in.
Sushma has done what Hillary did after 2008
Swaraj's tactical retreat resembles her with Hillary Clinton, who after losing the presidential race to Barack Obama in 2008, served as the secretary of state under him and earning a lot of good name.