In an overall stellar career, Sushma Swaraj will be remembered most for the unprecedented warmth and compassion she lent to the Indian diplomacy during her stint as India's external affairs minister. The Narendra Modi-led government had just started the policy to ensure outreach to citizens via social media in 2014, and Swaraj arguably was at the forefront throughout her tenure, even during a short period in 2016 when she was seriously ill and had to undergo a kidney transplant.
Swaraj was known for prompt response on Twitter to address grievances of overseas Indians and it was these snippets of conversations with common Indians that gave an insight into her personality, and made her a deeply respected personality even among people who differed with her political ideology. There are countless stories of how she reached out to people over internet and helped them. She was accessible. She was kind.
Sushma was a stickler for process, but was also someone who would not shy away from making exceptions for compassionate cases.
Vikas - I know Indian High Commission is closed because of three holidays. But this a very compassionate case. Please facilitate her visit to India. She has to attend the last rites of her father in Patiala. @HCI_Ottawa https://t.co/wdHPo5Vfiv
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) April 19, 2019
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) April 30, 2019
Her empathetic side was at display on multiple occasions and she garnered praise from people across political spectrum. The empathy and concern she showed to the mother of an Indian national, Hamid Ansari who was incarcerated in Pakistan and was finally released after her ministry's efforts.
Govts may change, the cabinet may change, but Sushma Swaraj will go down as the most likeable cabinet ministers India has ever had. Hamid Ansari came back from a Pakistani Jail, he & his mother met Sushma ji on his return. Watch. I choked. pic.twitter.com/TVwqUC2Rxe
— Gabbbar (@GabbbarSingh) May 30, 2019
Known as a tough taskmaster, Swaraj also showed some rare moments of rage on the micro-blogging site. Apart from maintaining a fiery tone for her political opponents, another incident that comes to mind when Swaraj pulled up a Pune man for requesting a transfer for his wife on Twitter.
If you or your wife were from my Ministry and such a request for transfer was made on twitter, I would have sent a suspension order by now. https://t.co/LImngQwFh6
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) January 8, 2017
And the angry outburst was followed by a display of her unparalleled wit.
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) January 8, 2017
On many occasions, Swaraj had impressed tweeples with her sense of humour and wit. In the since deleted tweet to which Swaraj replied, a twitter user had asked her if they should be worried about volcanic eruptions if they were planning a trip to Bali. Instead of pointing out the obvious, Swaraj in an under 10 word response slayed it in style.
I will have to consult the volcano there. https://t.co/bv2atzWtZg
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) August 8, 2018
Another time, an Indian man in Malaysia sought Swaraj's help to get his friend back from India but his tweet was riddled with grammatical errors. After another man asked him to write to the minister in Hindi or Punjabi, Swaraj replied saying: "There is no problem. After becoming Foreign Minister, I have learnt to follow English of all accents and grammar."
There is no problem. After becoming Foreign Minister, I have learnt to follow English of all accents and grammar. https://t.co/2339A1Fea2
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) March 11, 2019
Swaraj's wry and subtle wit was at display again when a Twitter user made a bizarre request to help them fix their refrigerator. " @SushmaSwaraj Dear Ministers, @Samsung_IN sold me a defective refrigerator, they r not ready to replace ," the user wrote in a since deleted tweet. Sample Swaraj's response.
Brother I cannot help you in matters of a Refrigerator. I am very busy with human beings in distress. https://t.co/cpC5cWBPcz
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) June 13, 2016
Swaraj impressed her admirers by a last gesture of righteousness as she promptly moved out of her official bunglow after her tenure as a Union Cabinet minister and a Lok Sabha MP ended.
अन्य पार्टी वालों को कोर्ट का सहारा लेकर मकान से खदेड़ना पड़ता है, और आप स्वयं खाली कर के जा रही हैं.... इसे कहते हैं संस्कार और समर्पण
— Janardan Mishra (@JBMIS) June 29, 2019
When Swaraj opted out of contesting the Lok Sabha elections citing health reasons, and it became clear that she will not take ministerial charge in the new Modi government, the outpouring of best wishes and messages of gratitude, even from those on the other end of political spectrum, offered an idea as to how well respected Sushma was.
Going to miss @SushmaSwaraj as MEA. Whoever takes on the role has to fill the really tall shadow cast by her.
— Harini Calamur (@calamur) May 30, 2019
Cabinet rank or not, doesn't matter - @SushmaSwaraj will always be known as the humble and empathetic minister of external affairs, that India was lucky to have in the last 5 years! https://t.co/nbmc3iZUcW
— Sohini Guharoy (@sohinigr) May 31, 2019
The country will miss you in the cabinet . You brought in emotions and values to a ministry which always seemed so clinical!
— Priyanka Chaturvedi (@priyankac19) May 30, 2019
Known as the minister who promptly helps people on Twitter, Swaraj was named in the Global Thinkers List of 2016, compiled by Foreign Policy magazine. Swaraj was named in the "decision makers" category along with the Democratic Party's nominee for US presidential election Hillary Clinton, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon, German chancellor Angela Merkel, US attorney-general Loretta Lynch, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau etc.
In a website posting, the magazine recalled how, when around 10,000 Indian workers in Saudi Arabia faced a "food crisis" earlier this year due to job losses, Swaraj tweeted about the issue to six million followers on the social media website. "What followed was a weeks-long social media operation in which Swaraj posted information for migrants about rations provided by the Indian embassy, claims for unpaid wages, and government-organised transportation home," it said. Swaraj was one of India's most followed politicians on Twitter with over 13 million followers.
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Updated Date: Aug 07, 2019 10:59:06 IST