India's political spectrum has been astounded by the loss of an eminent leader, who was known for her ambidextrous and benevolent nature. Sushma Swaraj was the former External Affairs minister and BJP stalwart, who donned many hats during her long political career. She passed away on 6th August 2019, after a mass cardiac arrest at AIIMS Delhi. She notched up several firsts in her political career including being the country's youngest ever Cabinet Minister, the first Chief Minister of Delhi and first women spokesperson for any political party.
Sushma Swaraj was a prolific orator and outstanding administrator. She has played a key role in bettering India's ties with various nations. Uncompromising when it came to matters of ideology and interests of BJP, whose growth she immensely contributed to. From being hailed as 'supermom' of India by 'The Washington Post' to becoming world's most followed women leader, Swaraj gave a 'human face' to the Indian Ministry. Her active use of social media to engage with Indians around the world, made the Indian Embassy accessible to people in times of distress. She was successful in striking a chord with both the old and the young with her unflagging social media presence.
She helped to bring back many Indians stranded abroad. Geeta, a 27-year - old deaf and mute women was rescued from Pakistan back in 2015 and brought back to India after being stranded for 15 years. She helped an Indian citizen who was stranded in Berlin after losing both her passport and money and evacuated a mother of an eight month old baby from crisis struck Yemen.
In February 2015, she helped out 168 Indians trapped in Basra, Iran. Her Twitter follower count crossed 11 million mark, making Swaraj the world's most followed women leader. She has admirers even in Pakistan as she granted a year long medical visa to a Pakistani girl for an open heart surgery in India and two more Pakistani nationals their medical visas.
Swaraj was appreciated by her followers and admirers on social media for her ready wit and sense of humour in replying tweets and trolls. She didn't shy away from resolving big and small issues that concerned her countrymen and this separated her from the rest. Her one of the adorable twitter response was when a couple of years ago, a Twitter user reached out to the then foreign minister narrating about how he was stuck on Mars and inquired her about Mangalyaan 2 mission and its launch date, that would in turn provide him with food supplies to survive on the Red Planet. Her response to the tweet was, " Even if you are stuck on the Mars, Indian Embassy there will help you."
Another instance of her ingenious nature was when in 2016, she was unable to attend the swearing in of ministers since she had to meet the Foreign Minister of Hungary. The articulate Minister took subtle dig at media saying, " Media - PI avoid the headline : Sushma skips oath ceremony".
Apart from imparting yeoman service in the Foreign Affairs Ministry she is also being praised for her historic decisions in information and broadcasting industry. Sushma Swaraj served as the Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government and in 1998, gave " industry status" to Flim Production. Legitimising the Flim industry made it eligible for bank loans and changed its face forever. She was the one who enforced the live telecast of the debates and discussions of the Parliament in media channels. During her tenture as a Health Minister she 6 new branches of AIIMS.
Swaraj's sudden demise triggered a wave of shock and grief with leaders cutting across political spectrum paying glowing tributes to the astute leader. Prime Minister Narendra Modi says, " A glorious chapter in Indian politics comes to an end". UN General Assembly President, Maria Fernanda Espionosa has hailed India's former External Affairs Minister as " an extraordinary woman and leader".
Women politicians, even the fiery among them, often come to be regarded as mother figures in their later years. Sushma Swaraj was no exception and her role as External Affairs Minister endorsed this image of her. But behind that amicable exterior was a politician of immense caliber and top grade firepower.