Veteran politician Sushma Swaraj, who passed away at the age of 67 late on Tuesday night, is being hailed by politicians and citizens for being an "accessible" and illustrious leader, while also being an orator "par excellence." Among Swaraj's most memorable speeches in her political career, is when she spoke in the Lok Sabha over Article 370 in 1996, and when she addressed the United Nations General Assembly in 2017 and 2018.
BJP veteran LK Advani, who is considered to have been Swaraj's mentor during her early years in the party, also praised her oratory skills in a condolence letter.
"Sushmaji was someone who I have known and worked with since the beginning of her illustrious innings in the Bharatiya Janata Party. When I was the President of the BJP in the eighties, she was a promising young activist who I had inducted into my team. And over the years, she became one of the most popular and prominent leaders of our party — in fact, a role model for women leaders. A brilliant orator, I was often amazed at her ability to recall incidents, events and present them with utmost clarity and eloquence," a part of Advani's letter read.
Here is a look at some of the BJP leader's most iconic speeches:
Swaraj rose to speak in the Parliament in 1996 against the no-confidence motion moved against then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. She slammed the Opposition after Vajpayee resigned from the prime minister's post, saying that the event was the "foundation of Ram Rajya".
In the impassioned speech in the Lower House, Swaraj made a reference to the BJP's long-held aim to abrogate Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and said, "We are communal, because we want to abolish Article 370, we are communal, because we want to put an end to discrimination based on caste and creed in this country... Mr Speaker, we are communal, because we want the voices of the Kashmiri refugees to be heard."
In 2009, Swaraj spoke in the Lok Sabha in defence of the BJP as the saffron party had faced defeat in the General Election held that year. Reportedly, she said that "it wasn't secularism" that was the reason for the party's defeat, adding that it was a victory of "circumstances, not policies".
Similarly, in 2012, as the first woman Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Swaraj had criticised the Congress for not clearing its position on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) during a discussion on FDI in multi-brand retail. The same year, she also had responded to then prime minister Manmohan Singh's accusation against the BJP of stalling parliamentary proceedings as a "negation" of democracy. Financial Express quoted Swaraj as saying that hampering Parliament from functioning was "also a form of democracy".
In 2017, Swaraj addressed the United Nations General Assembly in a rousing call for action against state-sponsored terrorism, and while calling on global leaders for a united stand against terrorism, launched a scathing criticism on Pakistan for "sponsoring terrorists". She also referred to the dangers of climate change in her speech.
"We are completely engaged in fighting poverty; alas, our neighbour Pakistan seems only engaged in fighting us. (Pakistan's prime minister Shahid Khakan Abbasi) wasted rather too much of his speech (in his UNGA speech) in making accusations against us. He accused India of State-sponsored terrorism, and of violating human rights. Those listening had only one observation: "Look who's talking!" A country that has been the world's greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity became a champion of hypocrisy by preaching about humanity and human rights from this podium," she said.
She added, "Through you, with utmost sincerity, I would like to request this august assembly to stop seeing this evil with self-defeating and indeed meaningless nuance. Evil is evil. Let us accept that terrorism is an existentialist danger to humankind. There is absolutely no justification for this barbaric violence. Let us display our new commitment by reaching agreement on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism this year itself."
In 2018's UNGA speech, Swaraj reiterated a sharp criticism against Pakistan over terrorism, and also congratulated María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés for being elected to the post of the president of the global organisation. She said as a woman, she was doubly proud of the honour given to Garcés. She added, " I also recall, with equal pride, that the first woman to occupy this eminent chair was an Indian Smt Vijayalakshmi Pandit, in 1953 during the 8th session."
Giving a run-through of the schemes introduced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government in its first term, she pointed out that schemes like Ujwala were centred around women.
She added, "At the heart of Prime Minister Modi’s transformative vision is a radical idea: that the uplift of any nation is best achieved through the all-round empowerment of women. All the schemes that I have just spoken about have the welfare of women at their core. Last year, I spoke about the Ujjawala scheme, in which I am happy to report 50 million free gas connections have been provided so far."
Highlighting the need to end terrorism in her 2018 speech too, she said, "In our case, terrorism is bred not in some faraway land, but across our border to the west. Our neighbour’s expertise is not restricted to spawning grounds for terrorism; it is also an expert in trying to mask malevolence with verbal duplicity."
She also targeted Pakistan in a meeting of SAARC foreign ministers on the sidelines of the 2018 UNGA session and said that "the scourge of terrorism remains the single largest threat to South Asian region’s peace and stability and it is necessary to eliminate the ecosystem of its support."
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Aug 07, 2019 11:18:37 IST