Sushma Swaraj, the veteran leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and former Minister of External Affairs died on August 6, 2019, following a heart attack. She was 67 years old. She breathed her last in New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), where she had been brought in a critical condition after suffering a cardiac arrest. Path-breaking measures such as the passport infrastructure expansion and enhanced engagement with the East were the highlights of her tenure as the external affairs minister. Sushma Swaraj was only the second woman to hold the portfolio after Indira Gandhi, who briefly kept the external affairs ministry under her while being the prime minister.
Early Life, Education, And Early Career
Sushma Swaraj was born in a middle-class family in the Haryana city of Ambala. Her father was prominent in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a pro-Hindu organization from which the BJP was an offshoot. Sushma Swaraj attended college in Haryana and completed a law degree at Panjab University in Chandigarh. In 1973, she registered as an advocate in the Supreme Court of India. Even as a student, she was politically active notably as the leader of a pro-Hindu organization. In 1975 she married lawyer and politician Swaraj Kaushal, who served a term (1990–93) as governor of Mizoram state.
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Lesser-known facts about Sushma Swaraj
- During the times of Emergency, Sushma Swaraj married Swaraj Kaushal on 13, July, 1973. Swaraj Kaushal who was designated as Senior Advocate by Supreme Court of India at the young age of 34 has also served as Governor of Mizoram (February 1990 to February 1993).
- Links to Pakistan Sushma Swaraj’s parents hailed from Dharampura area of Lahore, Pakistan. She also visited Dharampura during her last visit to Pakistan.
- Sushma Swaraj got her early education from Sanatan Dharma College in Ambala Cantonment and got bachelor degree with majors in Sanskrit and Political Science. Then she studied law at Punjab University, Chandigarh.
- A child prodigy, she also received the title of the best cadet of N.C.C at the S.D. College, Ambala Cantt for three years in a row.
- Killing with her speeches since long time won best Hindi Speaker award for three consecutive years, held by the Language Department of Haryana.
- Interest in classical music, poetry, fine arts and drama too, Sushma Swaraj can definitely be called an all-rounder!
- Starting her political career in early 1970s, she joined Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and from there began her political journey. Sushma Swaraj father was also a prominent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh member.
- In 1973, Sushma Swaraj started practice as an advocate in the Supreme Court of India. She was part of George Fernandes Legal Defense team in Baroda Dynamite case (1975-77) along with Swaraj Kaushal.
- Sushma Swaraj became the youngest cabinet minister, at the age of 25, in the Janata Party Govt., headed by then Chief Minister Devi Lal.
- Of the many firsts to be honored In 1979, at an young age of 27, Sushma Swaraj became State President of Janata Party, Haryana State. She is also the first female Spokesperson of a national political party in India. Swaraj has many firsts to her credit as BJPs first female Chief Minister, General Secretary, Leader of Opposition, Union Cabinet Minister, Spokesperson and Minister of External Affairs.
- Liberating Indian Film Industry From the underworld to the legal papers, the journey of film production to make it to an industry, again made possible by Sushma Swaraj when she declared Indian film industry, thus making it eligible for bank finance. Swaraj was Union Cabinet Minister for Information and Broadcasting at that time (1988).
- First female Chief Minister of Delhi Served as first female Chief Minister of Delhi for a short period in 1998 (13 October – 3 December).
- Her popularity among the crowd can be clearly seen when she managed to get 3,58,000 votes in her favor in just 12 days of her campaign for the Bellary constituency in Karnataka, where she had contested against Sonia Gandhi. Though she lost by a margin of 7%, Swaraj gave a good fight to Sonia Gandhi.
- Set up six AIIMS During her tenure as Union Health Minister (January 2003 to May 2004) she opened up 6 All India Institute of Medical Sciences, at Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Jodhpur, Patna, Raipur and Rishikesh. A milestone in her ladder of achievements.
- First and only female MP till date to be honored with the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award. She has been elected seven times as the member of the parliament, and three times as a Member of the Legislative Assembly.
- Sushma Swaraj played a major role in passing Telangana Bill which let to formation of a separate state Telangana. Swaraj also has to argue with her own mentor Senior BJP Leader LK Advani for this. And once she said: “TELANGANA, WHEN YOU THANK SONIA AMMA FOR THE FORMATION OF TELANGANA STATE, DON’T FORGET YOUR CHINAMMA (SUSHMA SWARAJ REFERRING TO HERSELF)”
- She was the second woman to be India’s Minister of External Affairs after Indira Gandhi. Serving since 26, May, 2014, as Minister of External Affairs under Narendra Modi led NDA government.
- The crowning achievement of operation Rahat, during Yemen Crisis. When India helped many countries including United Kingdom, Russia, United States, Pakistan etc.
- In 2017, Wall Street Journal named her the ‘Best-loved’ politician in India.
- Mother to a brilliant daughter, Bansuri Swaraj, an Oxford graduate, and a Barrister at Law, Bansuri has of course followed into the steps of her mother.
- Being one of the most tech-savvy ministers, she is always there to help other in need. Many have got immediate help after they tweeted to Sushma Swaraj.