New Delhi: Leaders cutting across party lines expressed shock at the sudden demise of former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi describing her as a remarkable leader who devoted her life to public service and the poor.
President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, former president Pranab Mukherjee and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi condoled Swaraj's demise and hailed her as a good orator and a distinguished parliamentarian. BJP president and Home Minister Amit Shah and several other union ministers, including Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, also expressed grief and remembered her affectionately.
Swaraj passed away on Tuesday night suffering a massive cardiac arrest. She was 67. The former Union minister was taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences around 9:30 PM in a critical condition and was straight away taken to the emergency ward where a team of doctors attended to her but could not revive the astute politician, AIIMS sources said. "A glorious chapter in Indian politics comes to an end. India grieves the demise of a remarkable leader who devoted her life to public service and bettering lives of the poor. Sushma Swaraj ji was one of her kind, who was a source of inspiration for crores of people," Modi said in a series of tweets.
He hailed her as a "prolific orator and outstanding parliamentarian" and said she was admired and revered across party lines. "An excellent administrator, Sushma Ji set high standards in every ministry she handled. She played a key role in bettering India's ties with various nations. As a minister we also saw her compassionate side, helping fellow Indians," Modi said. Expressing shock over the demise of Swaraj, President Kovind tweeted, "The country has lost a much loved leader who epitomised dignity, courage & integrity in public life."
"Ever willing to help others, she will always be remembered for her service to the people of India," he said. Vice President Naidu said Swaraj's death was a huge loss to the country and a personal loss to him."She was an excellent administrator, outstanding Parliamentarian & a remarkable orator. My heartfelt condolences to bereaved family members," he tweeted. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said Swaraj despite being a politician, kept human sensibilities paramount. "As an MP, Sushma ji set new paradigms in the country. She always kept the interests of the country foremost and gave it expression. I salute Sushma ji's saintly memory. The shining sun of the India's political horizon has set in the form of Sushma Swaraj," he said.
Former president Pranab Mukherjee tweeted, "Shocked beyond words and distressed at the passing away of Smt SushmaSwaraj. An astute parliamentarian, an effective orator & an excellent humane leader, she will forever be remembered and missed. Hers was a story of hard work to heights. My deepest condolences and prayers." Home Minister Shah said she left an indelible mark in national politics. Describing her as a simple and rare politician, he said she was a strong voice of the BJP when it was in the opposition and left an indelible mark as a minister.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh described Swaraj as an extremely valued colleague, while Union minister Nitin Gadkari said her passing away was a personal loss for him, the BJP and the country. "Since the party's inception, she played a significant role in its expansion. When I was the President of BJP, she gave me guidance as an elder sister," Gadkari said.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said, "Deeply shocked to learn of the passing away of Smt Sushma Swaraj. Difficult to accept this news. The whole nation grieves, the Foreign Ministry even more so." BJP leader and former union minister Arun Jaitley said, "Saddened, pained and broken on demise of Sushmaji. She was one of the most outstanding politicians in the Present Era. She distinguished in all positions. She held Senior Positions with the Party, NDA Govt. & while in opposition. She leaves behind a void which is difficult to fill."
Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi described Swaraj as an extraordinary political leader, a gifted orator and an exceptional Parliamentarian and said she had friendships across party lines. "My condolences to her family in this hour of grief. May her soul rest in peace. Om Shanti," he tweeted.
BJP working president J P Nadda said it is a sad incident for not only the BJP but for the entire country. "She inspired us, her last tweet tells us how she was involved in serving the nation in an emotional way," he said. Leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said Swaraj was a great human being and will always be remembered.
Former union minister P Chidambaram said, "Deeply saddened that Sushma Swaraj ji has passed away. She served her party and the country with loyalty, devotion and distinction." "She added a new, people friendly dimension to the office of Foreign Minister. My sincere and heartfelt condolences to her family and loved ones," the Congress leader said.
CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury said,"Saddened to hear of Sushma ji's passing away. Heartfelt condolences to Shri Swaraj Kaushal and Bansuri." The Diplomatic community in Delhi also joined the nation in sorrow over the sad demise of a "great woman" in Indian politics, and one that during her tenure as foreign minister strengthened the position of India in the World.