Sushma Swaraj -- A powerful orator, people's minister; here are some interesting facts about the BJP stalwart
(PTI Photo)

Former External Affairs Minister and senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj passed away at the age of 67 on Tuesday night after suffering cardiac arrest. Sushma Swaraj was one of the most prominent faces of the BJP who immensely contributed to party's growth and never shied away from taking challenges.

Her rise in politics coincided in some ways with the growth of BJP as a party. She left a mark in roles as a union minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, as leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha from 2009 to 2014, and as External Affairs Minister in the first term of Narendra Modi government. A four-time member of Lok Sabha and three-time of Rajya Sabha, she did not contest in 2019 Lok Sabha elections citing her bad health.

Swaraj's attachment with the party ideology and principles was apparent even hours before she passed away as she tweeted to congratulate Prime Narendra Modi after the Centre's move to revoke the special status for Jammu and Kashmir. "I was waiting to see this day in my lifetime," she said.

During her tenure as the external affairs minister, she handled several strategically-sensitive issues, including Indo-Pak and Sino-India relations. Her role in resolving the prickly Doklam standoff between the Indian and Chinese sides will be remembered. Though known to be a tough fighter in the political battlefield, Swaraj was admired and respected across party lines.

Here are some must-know facts about Sushma Swaraj:

  • She was only the second woman to hold the portfolio of external affairs after Indira Gandhi, who briefly kept the external affairs ministry under her while being the prime minister.

  • She started her political life with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the RSS' student wing, and later joined the BJP.

  • She was the youngest cabinet minister at 25 when she joined the Haryana government in 1977 and the first woman chief minister of Delhi.

  • She was the Information and Broadcasting Minister 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.

  • Always eager to take on a challenge, Swaraj contested against the then Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Bellary in 1999 Lok Sabha polls. Though she fell short of votes, she grew in stature.

  • Long seen as a protégé of veteran BJP leader L K Advani, she also was the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha from 2009-14.

  • Swaraj has also served in the Rajya Sabha for three terms and was a member of the Haryana Assembly- the state she comes from - twice.

  • Swaraj, a law graduate who practised in the Supreme Court, was elected seven times as a Member of Parliament and three times as a member of the legislative assembly.

  • Swaraj has also held the portfolios of Telecommunications, Health and Family Welfare, and Parliamentary Affairs in the Union Cabinet.

  • She was married to Swaraj Kaushal, a designated senior advocate of the Supreme Court of India who served as Governor of Mizoram from 1990 to 1993. Kaushal was also a Member of Parliament from 1998 to 2004.

  • Swaraj was also the recipient of the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award.

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