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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Iron Lady Bids Adieu

The sudden demise of Sushma Swaraj , a former Union Minister in the cabinets of Atal Bihari Vajpayee & Narender Modi has turned the whole nation sombre & teary eyed. Her passing away has left a gaping hole on the political canvass of this country. She enriched the political class with her presence & the same would be poorer by her absence.

Not many politicians can turn down party tickets & sure shot cabinet berths, but Swaraj was one such personality who eased herself out of electoral politics on health grounds even though she could have won the election & a cabinet berth sitting at home.

An orator par excellence, an astute stateswoman, and the most affable, helpful, accessible & exemplary foreign minister that the country has seen. Her oratorial skills laced with wit, humour & facts were unparalleled & perhaps second only to her guru Vajpayee.

The famed troika of Vajpayee, Advani & Sushma held their own in parliament in the mid nineties when BJP was struggling with numbers. Sushma inevitably spearheaded the party’s attack in parliament & outside, and was respected for her forceful & effective presentation of the party’s stand.

Her fiery speeches in parliament are masterpieces worth listening again & again. In 1996 when Vajpayee lost the majority by 1 vote, Sushma compared it to the banishing of Sri Rama into the woods & denying him his right to the throne, because of Manthra – the wicked advisor to Kakai, Rama’s mother. Giving the example of Yudhishthir in Mahabharat, who was also denied his right to the throne by Shakuni ‘s tricks, Sushma famously remarked that when there were so many Shakunis & Manthras around, how could the right man (Vajpayee) become the PM.

She was appointed Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha by her mentor Advani & strongly defended the party’s cause & stand in that role. Those were difficult times for the party & Sushma in the 90s carried the party’s responsibility with aplomb.

In 1999, taking up the party’s cause she contested against Sonia Gandhi from Bellary & even learned Kannada at short notice. Though she lost the election, she had already stuck a cause with the people whom she kept visiting every year.

Her southern push benefitted the party in the years to come. In 2009, she was again entrusted with the LoP role before she went on to become the second woman to hold the External Affairs Ministry portfolio.

And what a foreign minister she turned out to be. She was just a tweet away from every Bharatiya. She turned out to be the most likeable, amiable & helpful foreign minister that the country had seen, helping Bharatiye in distress throughout the globe. She rescued our citizens from Yemen, Syria & Iraq at short notice.

Never one to mince words, she had no inhibitions in calling Pakistan a terror State from the UN podium. Tearing into Pakistan in 2017 while addressing the UN, she famously reminded that while Bharat had made AIMS, IITs & satellites, Pakistan had created terror outfits like Lashka- e-Taiba.

She walked tall on the political canvass of this country & enriched it immensely by her stature, poise, dignity & oratorial wizardry.

In this hour of grief, we can draw solace from the fact that she died a happy & contented person as her last tweet to the PM just hours before her demise testified. A dream which she had revealed in her Parliament speech in June 1996 had finally been fulfilled – the repealing of Article 370.

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Aman Gupta
Aman Gupta
Political Editor, Samast Bharat magazine


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