Sushma Swaraj: A Role Model for Women in Public Life
The brouhaha surrounding the scrapping of Article 370 and the bifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5 had not even died down when the news of the untimely demise of BJP stalwart and beloved leader Sushma Swaraj started flooding the social media on the night of August 6, 2019.
With the untimely demise of Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday night, Delhi has seen the death of its three former chief ministers within the space of one year. First one to go was the former BJP stalwart Madan Lal Khurana, who served as the CM from 1993-1996. He passed away in October 2018. Last month on July 20, 2019, old warhorse of Congress, and three-time CM of Delhi, Sheila Dikshit, passed away from cardiac arrest. Now, Sushma Swaraj is the latest to join the list.
Here we present a brief profile of Sushma Swaraj, former Minister of External Affairs (May 2014- May 2019).
Date of Birth: February 14, 1952
Place of Birth: Ambala Cantt (Haryana)
Parents: Sushma was born to Shri Hardev Sharma and Shrimati Laxmi Devi
Spouse: She married Swaraj Kaushal in 1975, and they are blessed with a daughter. Her husband is a Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court and was the youngest Governor in India (of the state of Mizoram) at the age of 37 years.
Political Party: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
Education: She completed her graduation (B.A.) from S.D. College in Ambala Cantonment. Political Science and Sanskrit were her major subjects in graduation. Thereafter, she opted to study Law from the Punjab University at Chandigarh. She was a meritorious student from the beginning and received the Best Student award in 1970 from her college (S.D. College).
Career: By profession she was a lawyer. But she was inclined towards politics. Ms. Swaraj had a long political journey that began from Haryana in 1977. Starting her political career as a part of Jayaprakash Narayan’s socialist movement, she rose to become a leader of national and international stature within the BJP. She was known for her powerful oratory skills that resonated with people from all walks of life. In addition, she was an able administrator and tried to solve big and small issues with relative ease.
Political Milestones: Sushma Swaraj was a Member of the Haryana Legislative Assembly (two terms). Her first and second tenures were from 1977-1982 and 1987-1990 respectively. In 1977, at the age of 25, she got a berth in the Haryana cabinet led by late Shri Devi Lal, as the Minister of Labour and Employment. Thus, she had the distinction of becoming the youngest-ever cabinet minister in Haryana government
Ms Swaraj was considered as a late entrant to the BJP. In spite of that, she won the hearts of the top brass of the BJP soon. She worked as a minister in different portfolios. For example, she served as the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Minister OF Parliamentary Affairs and Minister of Health in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government. Apart from these, she also served as the first woman Chief Minister of Delhi for a brief period in 1998. She served 7 terms as a Member of Parliament (MP), and 3 terms as a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA).
Her spat with Sonia Gandhi in 2004 hit the headlines, when the Congress-led UPA came to power. Ms. Swaraj threatened that if Sonia Gandhi takes oath as the Prime Minister of India, then she will shave her own head and live on berries.
As the Minister of External Affairs in Modi’s first cabinet, Ms. Swaraj’s work was worth its weight in gold. She helped many Indians who were abducted or suffered injustice in other countries. Her diplomatic skills were absolutely superb. She solved many core issues without much hue and cry. As our Minister of External Affairs, she ensured the provision of best possible facilities to the Indian Haj pilgrimage groups in Saudi Arabia. Due to her efforts, Indian pilgrims never faced any problems during the Haj time. This earned her tremendous praise and goodwill for her work culture and commitment.
For some time now, Ms. Swaraj was passing through a phase of bad health. Further, she had to go through a kidney transplant a couple of years ago. This prompted her not to contest the Lok Sabha elections 2019 due to poor health. She opted out from the Modi 2.0 cabinet too. But who knew that on Monday, August 6, 2019, around 9:30 p.m., Ms. Swaraj would breathe her last due to a cardiac arrest in Delhi? She was only 67. Just a couple of hours before her death, she had tweeted and congratulated PM Modi for scrapping Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir. Her untimely death has shattered many hearts, and VIPs and ordinary folks alike are queuing up right now to bid adieu to her at the BJP headquarters. It is needless to add that her death has created a gap in Indian politics which will be difficult to fill for a long time to come.