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Sushma’s death ends a political era in Delhi

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By IANS Updated: Aug 07, 2019 11:18 pm
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Geeta, a deaf-mute Indian woman who accidentally crossed over to Pakistan, breaks down during a condolence meeting for former Union minister Sushma Swaraj, in Indore, Wednesday, Aug 7, 2019. Geeta, who was stranded in Pakistan for nearly 15 years, was rescued and brought back to India after an intervention by Swaraj as the external affairs minister. (PTI)


New Delhi, Aug 7 (IANS):
The demise of Sushma Swaraj, a politician of many firsts, marks an end to a political era in Delhi, where she was the last of surviving former Chief Ministers after the death of Sheila Dikshit.

Sushma Swaraj became the first woman Chief Minister of Delhi in 1998, albeit for a short period. Her successor was Sheila Dikshit, who went on to occupy the post for 15 long years and who passed away last month.

Sushma Swaraj (BJP) and Dikshit (Congress) were the only two women to rule the national capital. Both died succumbed to cardiac arrest.

Both were among the prominent women politicians in the country.

Madan Lal Khurana, a Jan Sangh and BJP stalwart who was the Chief Minister of Delhi, passed away in October 2018 after a prolonged illness.

Sahib Singh Verma, another BJP Chief Minister of Delhi, was already dead by then.

In her political career spanning over five decades, Sushma Swaraj got the credit of being the first on many counts.

She was the first full-time woman External Affairs Minister (2014-19). Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi headed the Ministry for a short span multiple times.

Sushma Swaraj was also the first woman Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha — between 2009 and 2014.

She entered politics when few women did so. She was not only the first woman spokesperson in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but also in any national party.

She became the youngest Cabinet Minister in Haryana at age 25 in 1977.

Born to a father who was a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Sushma Swaraj joined the BJP after the 1975-77 Emergency — and steadily rose the ranks.

Emotions overwhelm mourners

Former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s admirers were in tears as her mortal remains made their way from her residence to the BJP headquarters in the heart of the national capital.

It was a short journey but scores of admirers who sprinted along with the vehicle transporting her body ahead of the last rites kept shouting slogans hailing the veteran politician — and frequently breaking down.

The two slogans chanted most were “Sushmaji amar rahe” and “Jab tak suraj chand rahega, Sushma tera naam rhega”.

So shrill was the sloganeering that the sirens in the convoy carrying the BJP leader’s body had to get louder to clear the path.

Before the body draped in the national flag was taken out of her residence, where it was kept since her death overnight, a large number of people, neighbours included, thronged the house close to Jantar Mantar monument.

Guided by a police pilot, the convoy included a white Ambassador car followed by the ambulance carrying the mortal remains. Her family was in another vehicle.

6091
By IANS Updated: Aug 07, 2019 11:18:39 pm