One of the tallest politicians and leaders to come out of the BJP ranks, Shrimati Sushma Swaraj was made of steel and had a huge connect with the Indian masses has left an undelible mark in Indian politics and public life. It came as a shock and huge loss to Indians across the globe to hear that the people’s minister and former EAM has passed away.
Swaraj is one of the rare BJP leaders belonging to the Shri AB Vajpayee era who was a humanist first and never shied in helping not just Indians but foreigners in India with her Twitter handle being active and never stopped in engaging with people reaching out for help. People centric MEA, Sushma Swaraj was all about people, beating hands down advertising Gurus and there is not one instance when she didn’t spring into action to bring Indians confined in Pakistan home, be it Hamid Ansari, Uzma forced to marry someone against her will, Geeta stranded for 15 years and Tom Uzhunnalil rescued from terrorists.The biggest tribute to her achievements was the testimony of people on TV whom she helped to come safely to the homeland and made for an emotional moment.
The list is long and the role played by Sushma Swaraj, a lawyer and powerful orator in English and Hindi, mastering fully the tricks of diplomacy remains one of her legacy and during her time, she played a pivotal role to give India recognition in global forums and today India is at the forefront of international relations. Recently, India gained a massive diplomatic victory in getting access to Khulbushan Jadhav unfairly confined in Pakistan. We shouldn’t obliterate the role played by Swaraj during her terms at the EAM where she laid the groundwork. She redefined diplomacy, politics and foreign ministry. Swaraj made the ministry accessible and inclusive to the commoners, albeit middle class Indians, using Twitter to smoothen the various processes. This will remain her biggest legacy.
In today’s times, political bonhomie is a rare thing, something we have seen with former Indian Prime Minister AB Vajpayee giving so much dignity to politics. Of course, her sense of humor with realism is something we will cherish forever. Her famous tweet, even if you are stuck on Mars, Indian embassy there will help you. It speaks volume on her role as EAM and embodies that politics and public service is all about service to the people. The incredible achievements speak a lot, first women CM of Delhi, first full time EAM, first woman Opposition leader in Lok Sabja, first woman spokesperson of a political party. There were many firsts in her incredible and rich political life, seven times elected Member of Parliament.
The grace and poise she always carried herself with in a rich laden political life, fiesty, outspoken and reaching out to the Indian masses, breaking the feudal barrier that politicans normally create between the people during campaigns, something we often see on TV. One of her rare traits is cultivating friendships with people across political parties and different ideologies, no wonder she was much loved from people spanning across different values from politicians to journalists. The innate ability of nurturing relations with friends and foes, may seems an acquired taste but shows how culturally refined she was in her entire life time as a human being. Watch this video on the 1998 interview with Sreenivasan Jain of NDTV:
In her term as Union Minister, Sushma Swaraj was often seen as a mother figure to many stranded as they reached out to her on Twitter and her responsibilities as minister wasn’t limited to India but foreigners facing difficulties in the country. It speaks volumes about her as not just a politician but a leader standing tall. Of course, her trademark and sartorial style would give new age fashion designers a run for their money, defining style never leaving her sleeveless jacket paired on perfectly matched saree.
One thing that I can never ever forget about Sushma Swaraj was at the UN when she put a strong case on Pakistan’s provocation during heavy shelling and home bred terrorists infiltrating India in the aftermath of Pulwama. It’s a strong speech that nobody can ever forget and she expressed with genuine emotion. Many call her the millenial Minister during Modi 1.0 cabinet. Swaraj never compromised on her lofty ideals and principles going out of her way to help and many would recall the time she was admitted for renal issue, a girl came to ask for her help in the hospital room on account of the US visa delayed, the EAM sprang into action and worked from there. Very few ministers can have such dedication to their work and a model to emulate.
Swaraj embodied the Glass Cliff, as expressed in an article today and a tale of women triumphing when all the odds are stacked against them and most likely to succeed when the risks of failure is so high. It is highly significant today when more needs to be done to change discriminatory and patriarchal mentality against women rising in public life and reaching to the stars. One inherent qualities in Swaraj was her love for poetry and exudes a smile in her duel with former PM Dr Manmohan Singh in Lok Sabha, “Tumhe wafa yaad nahee, Humein jafa yaad nahee, Zindagi or maut ke toh do hee tarane hain, ek tumhein yaad nahee, ek humein yaad naheen” and “Agar ek Manthara aur ek Shakuni ke vajah se itna kuchh huya, toh aaj toh humaare saamne kitni Mathara aur kitne Shakuni hain”, the time when Vajpayee Government fell after 13 days.
She was perhaps the last leader belonging to the Vajpayee era who stood tall, gracious, elegant and with poise during her entire political career. India has lost one of the most admired leaders, adhering to the idea of India as a nation, inclusive and belonging to one and all. Her biggest achievement is how she changed the way the world is looking to us as a nation, revolutionizing the Minister of External Affairs and diplomacy, making Twitter an open channel for Indians in distress. Quite an irony about life and death when we read her last Tweet to PM Modi on J& K bifurcation, saying, “Thank You PM. Thank you very much. I was waiting to see this day in my lifetime.” And to think, two hours later, Sushma Swaraj breathed her last.
I take a bow Ma’am. Sushma Swaraj was one who could have become India’s woman Prime Minister for she boasts of all qualities, a stateperson par excellence, super efficient Minister and an exceptional leader. Just imagine the destiny of India with Swaraj as woman PM. One of the rare leaders BJP leaders which I truly admire, first was AB Vajpayee and the second Sushma Swaraj. An indelible mark and a huge legacy, political bonhomie at a time when political discourse is sinking into new lows by the day, Swaraj was a rare exception. There are so much present political leaders can learn from Sushma Swaraj, a humanist first.
Rest in peace Ma’am and you shall be remembered for lending grace and dignity to your office, showing what diplomacy is all about,
-witness of her achievement testimony