BJP leader and former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, who passed away due to a cardiac arrest on Tuesday, is being hailed by politicians across party lines for being an "accessible and kind" minister. Swaraj, who held her last ministerial position during the previous BJP government led by Narendra Modi, broke the glass ceiling by being the first woman to hold several offices for the first time.
Swaraj, a law graduate who practiced in the Supreme Court, was elected seven times as a Member of Parliament and three times as a member of various legislative Assemblies like Haryana and Delhi. Her political journey began with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the RSS' student wing.
At the age of 25, she became the youngest Cabinet minister in the Haryana Assembly. Reportedly, she held eight portfolios over two years from 1977 to 1979, which included ministries like social welfare, labour and employment.
Swaraj became the first female chief minister of Delhi in October 1998, which also made her the first female chief minister from the BJP. In mid-October 1998, she was asked to leave her ministerial position and take over as Delhi chief minister, replacing Sahib Singh Verma.
"The Delhi Assembly election was then barely 40 days away. There were internal reports that the BJP was going to lose that election badly on account of rising onion prices and the shortage of power in the Capital. She was made to lead a battle she knew was already lost, yet she fought valiantly," this Firstpost report says.
As part of the BJP, Swaraj is also credited for being the first female spokesperson of a national party.
Swaraj held the Information and Broadcasting portfolio in the 13-day Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1996 and got the Cabinet portfolio again after he led the BJP to power in 1998. Reportedly, she was the first to take the step to introduce the live telecasting of Lok Sabha debates when she held the portfolio.
The former EAM, a protege of veteran BJP leader LK Advani, was also the first female Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, between 2009 and 2014. As the Minister for External Affairs, Swaraj radically used social media platform Twitter, to maintain contact and address grievances of the Indian diaspora. She was hailed by supporters and critics for her accessibility.
"It was through social media that she helped hundreds of Indians within and outside of India while serving in the Narendra Modi Cabinet for five years between 2014 and 2019. She was most accessible to any Indian in any part of the world," this Firstpost report notes.
Before joining the BJP, Swaraj had worked with socialist leader George Fernandes' legal team during the Emergency, India Today reported, adding that she joined the saffron party after being an "active member" of Jayaprakash Narayan's anti-Emergency movement.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Aug 07, 2019 09:24:52 IST