Sushma Swaraj: The first woman leader to make it big in BJP | Daily News


Sushma Swaraj: The first woman leader to make it big in BJP

INDIA: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost one of its tallest leaders on Tuesday, Sushma Swaraj, bringing an abrupt end to the glorious innings of a woman leader who could make it to a male-dominated party with her sheer determination and ability to take risks.

She died on the day the Bharatiya Janata Party fulfilled one of its three ideological commitments by rendering Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir, ineffective.

“Thank you Prime Minister. Thank you very much. I was waiting to see this day in my lifetime,” she had tweeted after the Lok Sabha passed the bill

She breathed her last just hours after posting her message on Twitter. As the spokesperson of the BJP in the 90s, Swaraj was first among the GenX leaders of the party to realise the importance of television. The video footage of a saree-wearing politician with a big bindi on her forehead observing ‘Karwa Chauth’ or her midnight raids at police stations in Delhi won her a place in the heart of Indian women.

She demonstrated her ability to take risks by throwing a challenge to Congress’ Sonia Gandhi in Bellary - a Kannada speaking constituency with which she had no association in past - and announcing that she would shave off her head and sleep on floor like a widow if the Congress leader, who she said was a lady of foreign origin, became the Prime Minister of India. It’s a different matter that the two women politicians shared a warm relationship later, often seen in Parliament shaking hands and enquiring about their health. She knew how to make friends but she could not ignore any breach of trust. As the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, her informal interaction with journalists ended in May 2012 when some reporters quoted her on the possibility of Hamid Ansari’s second chance in the vice-president’s office.

The interaction happened in her Parliament office and next morning newspapers quoted her as saying “Ansari does not have the stature to become the consensus candidate for VP post”. She was upset on two accounts.

First, she was wrongly quoted, and, second, reporters had breached confidence and put out a background briefing as a formal remark.

It had infuriated many leaders from within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) such as Sharad Yadav. Her interaction with journalists got limited and she never returned to ‘background briefing’ to reporters, even as foreign affairs minister, and carried that grudge till her last days.

Swaraj, who was the foreign minister from May 26, 2014, to May 30, 2019, was the second woman to hold the office after Indira Gandhi.


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