An unfortunate farewell
Before misfortune struck and took her away, Sushma Swaraj's conscience was deeply moved by how the government had secured the abrogation of Article 370–longstanding demand of Janta Party–in Parliament which was evident by her tweet hours before her shocking demise: "@narendramodi ji - Thank you Prime Minister. Thank you very much. I was waiting to see this day in my lifetime." She suffered a cardiac arrest on Tuesday night and was brought to AIIMS Trauma Centre where doctors, despite trying their best to revive her, pronounced her dead. Just as BJP had every reason to celebrate the day with an overflowing sense of achievement of having scripted history as the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019, got the nod of Lok Sabha, paving way for complete integration of Kashmir, clouds of despair shrouded the atmosphere of celebration. One of BJP's old guards, Sushma's rich legacy is all that is left now with her last rites completed in the Capital yesterday. Wednesday saw people from the political spectrum pouring tributes as she was remembered for her prominent political career spanning over 40 years. Hailed as the youngest Cabinet Minister of Haryana at the age of 25 back in 1977, Sushma joined the Bharatiya Janta Party in 1984 and was appointed as the secretary and soon the general secretary of the party. Though the road ahead was not so pleasant thereafter as she tasted successive Lok Sabha defeats in 1984 and 1989 but in 1990, she was elected to the Rajya Sabha. Her first stint as a Union Cabinet Minister came in 1996 during the 13-day government under Atal Behari Vajpayee when she held the portfolio of Information and Broadcasting. In 1998, she became the first women chief minister of Delhi–even if for just two months–after resigning her seat in the Lok Sabha. For the qualities she possessed, Sushma was an inevitable pick for Vajpayee in his government as she was the Minister of Information and Broadcasting between September 2000 and January 2003 and both Health and Parliamentary Affairs between January 2003 and May 2004. Sushma's conviction and work ethics hugely contributed to the party's development as she was made the leader of opposition in 2009. Even in opposition, she ensured to meet all foreign dignitaries visiting India during UPA-I with Dr Manmohan Singh at the helm. Her keen observation of foreign developments in all those years in the opposition had turned Sushma into the most appropriate person for holding the External Affairs portfolio in 2014 when the Modi wave swept the country, giving BJP a healthy majority in the Lok Sabha. Her time as the Foreign Minister was seen as a pinnacle in her celebrated political career earning her plaudits from people across party lines. Sushma advocated digital diplomacy in an unprecedented fashion. Her perennial and round-the-clock presence on twitter made her the most approachable foreign minister ever. Taking cognisance of Indians in distress across the globe and pushing for immediate aid to them remains a cornerstone of her time in the office. Her strong presence for Indians around the world made her a centre for jokes but simultaneously made her endearing in the eyes of everyone. Even the current External Affairs Minister Jaishankar admitted that those were some very large shoes to fill as he took charge of the MEA following NDA's re-election in 2019. It is well-understood that had Sushma contested elections in 2019, she was, without doubt, the choice for MEA. However, she had stepped down and cited health concerns, rejecting the opportunity to contest from Vidisha.
Exhibiting every characteristic of being the Iron Lady of BJP, Sushma Swaraj's incredible political career and the influence she had on Indian politics is irreplaceable. As the entire nation mourns her demise, she leaves a bequest which will forever inspire women political leaders in their careers. A bright lamp of women empowerment, the political mileage Sushma scripted had a large share of acknowledgement due towards her strong character and charisma. Her leadership, determination and commitment were lauded by everyone alike. Perhaps the most important thing to note in this extremely tragic moment is the satisfaction that Sushma Swaraj cherished upon the abrogation of Article 370 right before her unfortunate demise. Her service to the people of this great nation will always be remembered as India bids adieu to one of its finest leaders.