DEMISE … Senior BJP leader and former Union minister Sushma Swaraj dies of heart attack

NEW DELHI: Former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj is no more. She died of a massive heart attack after admission to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on Tuesday evening. She was 67. A prominent BJP leader, Sushma Swaraj had functioned as Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha during the UPA period. She also held the post of chief minister of Delhi state.

Sushma Swaraj was ailing for some time, and had undergone hospitalization and prolonged treatment during her term as external affairs minister in the first Modi government. She underwent a kidney transplant in 2016.

The news of the demise stunned all … specially her close associates and parliamentarians who were just trooping out of the capital by flights and by road after the Budget Session ended this evening. A pall of gloom descended over the capital which saw her in many top positions of power. All through her terms, she maintained great dignity in public conduct, and she was a powerful orator both in Parliament and outside. 

With husband and daughter…

Sushma was born in Ambala Cantonment in 1952. Her husband Swaraj Kaushal, daughter Bansuri and other family members were present at the hospital when the end came. Union Health  minister Dr Harshvardhan, Union ministers Prahlad Joshi and Nitin Gadkarai had also rushed to the AIIMS after the news of her hospitalization spread.

The former minister had tweeted in support of the Kashmir bills after its passage in Parliament. “Thank you Prime Minister. Thank You very much. I was waiting to see this day in my lifetime,” she tweeted at 7.23pm, and after a short while was rushed to hospital. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, saying Sushma’s demise was a “personal loss” to him. Though she was initially identified with the LK Advani group in the BJP when Modi became PM, she later built bridges with the PM and the two got along well.

Sushma’s husband Swaraj Kaushal was a practising criminal lawyer in the capital. He was named a senior advocate in Supreme Court at age 34. He also served as Governor of Mizoram in the early 1990s. In the mid 1970s, he had defended Socialist leader George Fernandez in the Baroda Dynamite Case related to the Emergency days. He was also MP for a couple of terms, and once both Sushma and Kaushal were in Rajya Sabha together. Daughter Bansuri is graduate from Oxford, where she studied law at Inner Temple. Bansuri is now practising as a criminal lawyer in Delhi High Court.


Tweeted Modi: “Sushma Ji’s demise is a personal loss. She will be remembered fondly for everything that she’s done for India. My thoughts are with her family, supporters and admirers in this very unfortunate hour. Om Shanti.”

“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.

“I can’t forget the manner in which Sushma Ji worked tirelessly as EAM in the last 5 years. Even when her health was not good, she would do everything possible to do justice to her work and remain up to date with matters of her Ministry. The spirit and commitment was unparalleled.

“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 who were in distress in any part of the world,” added Modi. 
The Congress condoled her death and tweeted, “We are saddened to hear about the untimely demise of Smt Sushma Swaraj. Our condolences to her family and loved ones.”

Sushma Swaraj had not contested the Lok Sabha polls this time due to ill health. A seven-time Member of Parliament, she had been elected to Parliament from Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh for last two terms. She also served as state minister. It was at a young age of 25 that she became a state minister in 1977, post Emergency, in Haryana. IHN-NN


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