Sushma Swaraj, the former foreign minister, and BJP veteran passed away last night after a cardiac arrest. She was 67. Her cremation will be completed this afternoon in Delhi with state honors.
She had been unwell for some time and had opted out of contesting the election this year. Ms. Swaraj is admired across political lines. Prime Minister Narendra Modi mourned her death and tweeted, “A glorious chapter in Indian politics comes to an end.”
PM Modi became emotional as he visited her home this morning and spoke with her husband Swaraj Kaushal and daughter Bansuri. The PM described her death as a “personal loss” and wrote: “India grieves the demise of a remarkable leader who devoted her life to public service and bettering lives of the poor.”
Few hours before her death, Ms. Swaraj made her last tweet congratulating PM Modi for the move to end special status to Jammu and Kashmir and reorganize the state into two union territories.
“Thank you Prime Minister. Thank you very much. I was waiting to see this day in my lifetime,” she tweeted.
She went through a kidney transplant and had since drastically reduced her public engagements. Around 9 pm, she was taken to Delhi’s All India of Medical Sciences and several BJP leaders and ministers will be gathering after the new started trickling it.
Sushma Swaraj was one of the top ministers in PM Modi’s cabinet in his first term. One of her party colleagues, Ravi Shankar Prasad, described her as his mentor and said in an emotional tribute: “She was happy about Article 370’s abrogation, I read her tweet when I got back home…and then I heard…I feel shattered. Can’t describe my grief…”
Ms. Swaraj earned praisings for her kindness that touched many hearts. When it became clear that she would not be part of PM Modi’s government, many people sent messages of thanks and good wishes on Twitter. She was very active on social media and often responded on Twitter to people seeking assistance or just reaching out to her.
She was widely acclaimed for her oratory, in parliament and outside. PM Modi tweeted, “Sushma Ji was a prolific orator and outstanding Parliamentarian. She was admired and revered across party lines.” Ms. Swaraj started her political career with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad in the year of 1970 and became the youngest minister of a state Haryana, in 1977.
Pranab Mukherjee, the former President admired her tweeting, “astute parliamentarian, an effective orator and an excellent humane leader”. “Hers was a story of hard work to heights,” his tweet read.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and several other leaders all over the country mourned her death. “I’m shocked to hear about the demise of Sushma Swaraj Ji, an extraordinary political leader, a gifted orator & an exceptional Parliamentarian, with friendships across party lines. My condolences to her family in this hour of grief. May her soul rest in peace,” Mr. Gandhi tweeted.