Sushma Swaraj: The former external affairs minister with a human touch
New Delhi, Aug 06: BJP stalwart and one of the most popular woman politicians of the country Sushma Swaraj breathed her last this evening. She was a prominent BJP leader who held cabinet portfolios both in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government and PM Modi's first government (2014-2019). She had voluntarily refused to be the part of Modi 2.0 government citing health reasons.
If she has to be described in three words, the words would be - accessible, affable and humble.
She was declared dead at Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), and many say she was brought dead to India's top hospital. She was someone who commanded respect across party lines and was a dignified politician. The moment the news of her demise broke on news channels, twitter was flooded with condolence messages, such was her persona and such was her popularity. Among many hats she donned and many posts she held, Swaraj was also the first woman Chief Minister of Delhi.
Small in stature, tall by achievement and respect she had, could possibly be the closest phrase that can describe Swaraj to an extent. She was of what is sometimes referred to as the 'old guard' of the BJP, and was already popular when AB Vajpayee became the Prime Minister.
Swaraj was born in a middle-class family in the Ambala, Haryana. Her father, Hardev Sharma, was an active and important member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
She was a captivating orator in Hindi, in the sense that the words she chose and the way she would answer reporters on India-Pakistan relations during her stint as the External Affairs Minister spoke a lot abot how quickly she could grasp the nuances of diplomacy.
Swaraj was good at picking new languages, and the testimony to that is that she could speak almost flawless Kannada. She picked up the dravidian language in 1999, when the party fielded her against Sonia Gandhi from Bellary seat in Karnataka which was a Congress bastion. She lost the seat, but won hearts.
Her tenure as EAM: Accessibilty and humane approach that she brought to diplomacy
Her five years tenure during PM Modi's first term as the External Affairs Ministers was one of the highs of her life. The way she handled what is considered a difficult ministry and waded through tortuous corridors of diplomacy is lauded by one and all. She was active on Twitter and always seemed ready to help Indians in distress abroad. Her tweets were a mixture of prompt responses and some witty ones whenever the situation permitted. All that an Indian caught in a difficult situation in foreign lands had to do was to tweet to her briefly explaining the problem, and she would act in a jiffy, if it can be said so, and instruct local Indian consulate to reach out to the stranded fellow Indian. She became very popular for this.
During the Yemen crisis, she warned the Indians well in advance and many times to leave the strife torn country. Even then many were caught in deep crisis. About 1,947 foreign nationals from 48 countries were rescued from Yemen by India. Under her leadership, India not only managed to safely evacuate 4,741 Indians but also 1,947 foreign nationals from 48 countries.
When she spoke to the media, her thoughts seemed clear and answers to the point. She was really firm when across a message to Pakistan, or telling asking Islamabad that "terror and talks cannot go hand in hand."
She gave a human touch to the ministry, dominated by 'stiff upper lip' diplomats. She infused care, concern and affection into the profession called Diplomacy or Foreign Service, which is driven by logic and self interest (of countries. She truky cared for fellow Indians, no matter where they hailed from. She dealt firmly with Pakistan, but was graceful in handling ties with friendly nations.