Sushma Swaraj is probably the only Union minister who commands certifiable respect among her followers on social media. When it comes to leaders and ministers from the ruling BJP government, Swaraj again stands out. While other ministers from the Narendra Modi cabinet tweet because they-have-to kind of a way, Swaraj connects with people in need as their own. However, enough has been spoken about Swaraj's online presence.
In this digital age, and in the rush to read a 140-worded tweet, we unknowingly have forgotten one of the most illustrious qualities which Swaraj possesses — her oratorial skills — one of the many reasons she was hailed as a perfect choice to handle the tricky foreign ministry when the Modi government thumped its way to power in 2014. Swaraj, along with her colleague and Union minister Arun Jaitley, together formed a formidable opposition team to counter the then United Progressive Alliance government.
In September 2016, after her robust and lucid speech at the United Nations General Assembly,even the prime minister acknowledged Swaraj's beautiful public speaking skills.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 26, 2016
In December 2016, Swaraj underwent a kidney transplant. When she returned to Parliament in March this year, the excitement of the photographers and camera colleagues at Parliament's main entrance just before noon was akin to Budget Day when everyone waits for the finance minister's arrival. As she walked into the Lok Sabha, she was greeted by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Opposition leader Malikkarjun Kharge and almost instantly, the entire House clapped.
"Thank you Madam, Kharge-ji. I want to thank the entire House for their good wishes. It is because of your blessings and my faith in Krishna that I have completely recovered and returned to be here," Swaraj had said.
The debate that day was about the issue of crimes against Indians in the US.
In her statement, Sushma was aggressive as ever, taking a swipe at the Congress and Kharge who had alleged the government was "sitting idle". Terming these crimes "acts of individuals”, Sushma said India would not issue any advisory against travel to the US and added India has noted “widespread condemnation of these incidents by the US leadership, both in the administration and the Congress”, including by President Donald Trump. "The fact that broad sections of the American society have expressed their deep sorrow and regret over these incidents reassures us that despite these individual incidents, the American society values the people-to-people engagement of our two countries," said Swaraj, showing flashes of the oratorial skills she is well known for.
Once the speech was over, Mahajan lauded her, "Bahut dino baad aap ki damdaar awaaz is sadan mein goonji hain (your strong voice has echoed in the House after a long time)". As Sushma left, BJP members scrambled to walk her out.
Second instance where Swaraj proves that she is like no other cabinet leader, is when in April this year, the minister of external affairs tore through Pakistan for the farcical military court trial and its capital sentence to former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav. Her speech was indicative that India is drawing fresh red lines to take on its neighbour in the strongest possible ways.
Swaraj warned the Pakistani government that if the death sentence is carried out by them, it will be regarded “as an act of pre-meditated murder” and if they proceed on this matter there could well be consequences to the bilateral relations between the neighbouring countries.
"Our position on this matter is clear. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Shri Jadhav. If anything, he is the victim of a plan that seeks to cast aspersions on India to deflect international attention from Pakistan’s well-known record of sponsoring and supporting terrorism. Under these circumstances, we have no choice but to regard the sentence, if carried out, as an act of pre-meditated murder."
She didn't mince her words while making a statement in both Houses of Parliament on an issue which was emotionally-charged and one which inflamed passions in the country.
"It is extraordinary that a decision is suddenly announced awarding a death sentence in this case when previous exchanges with India itself underlines the insufficiency of evidence. To make matters even more absurd, three hours after the death sentence was announced, the Indian High Commission received an official communication from the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan reiterating the Pakistani proposal for conditional consular access. That tells us a lot about the farcical nature of the alleged proceedings which have led to an indefensible verdict against an innocent kidnapped Indian," Swaraj said in Parliament.
On Monday, Swaraj reiterated India's stand against terrorism and while she was on the topic, she reminded us what inherently makes Swaraj. When asked about Pakistan and the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, Swaraj said this:
"We don't spend so much time, energy on Pakistan. For us, Pakistan is any other country. Remember three issues: we want to resolve all issues through dialogue, dialogue will be bilateral and terror and talks can’t go simultaneously. Prime Minister Narendra Modi took an out-of-the-box initiative to fly down to Lahore. We are not going one step forward, two step backward on Pakistan... Pakistan can no way take the Kashmir issue to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), it can only be resolved bilaterally. We are very clear, no third-party mediation in talks with Pakistan. As long as the case filed in ICJ is not resolved, Kulbhushan Jadhav can’t be given capital punishment."
This was not the first time Swaraj was tearing Pakistan apart for its hypocrisy. But soon after Pakistan, it was China's turn.
"China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is about sovereignty. Kashmir is an integral part of India, no question of compromise. Our policies are not to counter any country but we agree on connectivity in principle. Has it been made through consultations? Did it compromise territorial integrity? We can’t accept a road through Kashmir which we consider as an integral part of India."
She blew our minds with her uninhibited and downright unreserved attitude was when she ripped through the Chinese administration after reports surfaced about a suspected Chinese helicopter was sighted flying above Indian territory in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.
"This is the first such airspace violation. We can understand even ground incursion as it can be a mistake. But this is unacceptable. We will take it up with Beijing," Swaraj told the media on Monday.
When asked about the Donald Trump administration pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement and the US president mentioning India as a nation which is part of the accord only for the benefits, Swaraj said:
"What Trump said is not the reality. We have signed the Paris accord not under any pressure nor for any money ...to say we did it for money, I totally reject that. India had signed the Paris agreement neither under any pressure nor for the lure of funds. We did it due to our commitment. Whether the US stays or not, we will remain committed to the Paris climate deal."
Even though it looks like we are done curating her best speeches ever since she came back after her surgery, the list is far from over.
Published Date: Jun 06, 2017 05:16 pm | Updated Date: Jun 06, 2017 05:16 pm