Politics

Close up: Sushma Swaraj

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Sushma Swaraj was born on 14 February 1952 in Haryana. She comes from a family background associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). She has a bachelor’s degree in Sanskrit and Political Science from S.D College in Ambala. She also has an LLB degree from Punjab University in Chandigarh. 

She kickstarted her political career as a member of a student wing

Like most politicians of her era, Sushma Swaraj started her political career during the emergency era. She was a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the BJP. She also participated in the anti-emergency movement led by Jayprakash Narayan. She had begun

She also participated in the anti-emergency movement led by Jayprakash Narayan. Swaraj began practicing as a lawyer in the Supreme Court in 1973. During the emergency days, she met and married Swaraj Kaushal, her colleague from the Supreme Court. Swaraj Kaushal later served as a Rajya Sabha MP as well as the Governor of Mizoram. She along with her husband was a part of the legal defense team of veteran Socialist George Fernandes.

Soon, she became the youngest cabinet member

Post emergency, Swaraj was appointed to the Haryana cabinet at the age of just 25 and became the youngest cabinet minister in the country. She was given the education portfolio in the government. She even became the state president of the BJP at the age of 27.

Sushma Swaraj briefly served as the Chief Minister of Delhi and became the first woman to hold that office. However, her tenure wasn’t successful and BJP lost the subsequent assembly elections and Swaraj returned to national politics.

Before becoming the Delhi CM, she was a member of the Rajya Sabha till 1996 when she was elected to the Lok Sabha from South Delhi.

A tough fighter 

In 1999, she fought the Lok Sabha election from Bellary in Karnataka against Congress president Sonia Gandhi. It was always going to be a lost battle as the seat was a Congress stronghold. However, Swaraj surprised everyone by learning Kannada in a very short time and addressing political rallies in the local language. This helped her amass an impressive 358,000 votes in a very short span of time.

She exposed the loopholes in the Congress Government fearlessly

Well renowned for her vocal skills, she was an important and sought-after campaigner for her party during the election. After her mentor, veteran BJP leader, L.K Advani decided to step down as Leader of Opposition (LOP), Swaraj became the new LOP.  During her term as LOP, the Congress government was rocked by a number of scandals and scams like the Commonwealth Games, 2G spectrum allocation and Coal auction scam. Swaraj was at the forefront of the attack on the government in this regard. She displayed her oratorical abilities and long Parliamentary experience to the corner and question the government. She was often aggressive and repeatedly questioned the then PM Manmohan Singh’s silence on these issues.

#Trending on social media

After BJP’s victory, PM Modi appointed Sushma Swaraj as Minister of External Affairs. She became only the second woman after Indira Gandhi to hold the post. She has since grown enormously in her role and has emerged as a key part of Modi’s team.

It is no secret that social media contributed immensely to BJP’s victory and has become an important tool for politicians. An astute politician, Swaraj quickly and successfully adapted to this new reality. She now has 8.81 million followers. Swaraj is extremely popular for her twitter diplomacy. She has helped a countless number of people who have tweeted her about their problems ranging from losing their passport to difficulty in getting a visa.

Known to be one of the highest performing members of Modi’s cabinet

She is famous for quickly coming to the aid of Indians and redressing their issues at midnight as well. This approach has made her popular among people and received universal praise. With the PM playing a big and more proactive role in the Foreign Policy department, Swaraj has astutely reinvented her role as a minister. She has assumed a lower profile and credited this habit of staying away from the limelight as a key reason for her success as a minister. She laid the foundation of the PMs surprise visit to Lahore. She also led the successful evacuation of Indians stranded due to civil war in Yemen. India was the only country to send planes and ships to rescue people from Yemen and even helped citizens of other nations to escape from there. Due to her tireless work, she is regarded as the highest performing ministers in the Modi cabinet.

She has assumed a lower profile and credited this habit of staying away from the limelight as a key reason for her success as a minister. She laid the foundation of the PMs surprise visit to Lahore. She also led the successful evacuation of Indians stranded due to civil war in Yemen. India was the only country to send planes and ships to rescue people from Yemen and even helped citizens of other nations to escape from there. Due to her tireless work, she is regarded as the highest performing ministers in the Modi cabinet.

In 2015, she caught the public’s eye for her involvement in a controversy

Sushma Swaraj found herself in the eye of a major storm when she was accused of helping disgraced IPL czar Lalit Modi. She had helped him get travel papers to visit his ailing wife in Portugal when he was under the scanner of Indian authorities for his role in IPL irregularities. Swaraj defended herself by saying that she had helped Lalit Modi on humanitarian grounds and that there was no immoral or unethical behavior. The government also strongly supported Swaraj in the face of opposition demanding her resignation.

The controversy notwithstanding, Swaraj today is considered India’s most successful and powerful politicians. She is the only woman to have been honored with the  Outstanding Parliamentarian Award. Often compared to Hillary Clinton due, she is an inspiration for millions of women in India.

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