Sushma Swaraj Dies Of Cardiac Arrest At AIIMS Delhi, Funeral Today
Former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who brought a rare empathy and human approach to India's diplomacy, died of a cardiac arrest at All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi on Tuesday night.
Swaraj was 67. She is survived by her husband Swaraj Kaushal and daughter Bansuri.
Swaraj was taken to AIIMS Delhi around 9:30 pm in a critical condition. She was immediately moved to the emergency ward, where a team of doctors attended to her but could not revive her. "She suffered a massive cardiac arrest. She was brought to AIIMS around 9:30 pm, but doctors could not revive her," a source at the hospital said.
One of the most prolific politicians of India, Swaraj's death triggered a wave of shock and grief with political leaders across party lines paying glowing tributes to the Bharatiya Janata Party stalwart.
"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," Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.
"Extremely shocked to hear of the passing of Smt Sushma Swaraj. The country has lost a much loved leader who epitomised dignity, courage & integrity in public life. Ever willing to help others, she will always be remembered for her service to the people of India," President Ram Nath Kovind tweeted.
Just hours before her death, Swaraj had tweeted to congratulate Modi after the Parliament voted in favour of revoking Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcating the state into two union territories.
"Narendra Modi ji - Thank you Prime Minister. Thank you very much. I was waiting to see this day in my lifetime," she had said.
On Tuesday night, Swaraj's dead body was taken to her Delhi residence. It will be kept at the BJP headquarters from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm for party workers and leaders to pay their tributes, the party’s Working President JP Nadda said.
Swaraj’s funeral will be performed at the Lodhi crematorium in the national capital.
As India’s external affairs minister, Swaraj brought a sense of assertiveness in India's diplomacy and played a key role in resolving the Doklam standoff with China in 2017.
She had also played a key role in India approaching the International Court of Justice challenging a Pakistani military court's death sentence to Kulbhushan Jadhav. Swaraj was known for her prompt responses on Twitter to address grievances of overseas Indians. She also played a key role in strengthening the BJP across India in the 1990s.
The former union minister had a kidney transplant in 2016 and had opted out of contesting 2019 Lok Sabha elections earlier this year for health reasons.
Swaraj had many firsts to her credit. She was the youngest cabinet minister in the Haryana government, the first woman chief minister of Delhi and the first woman spokesperson for a national political party.
She started her political life with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and later joined the BJP.
She was the Information and Broadcasting Minister in the 13-day Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1996 and received the cabinet portfolio again after he led the BJP to power in 1998.
Always eager to take on a challenge, Swaraj contested against former Congress President Sonia Gandhi in Bellary in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections. Though she fell short of votes, she grew in stature.
Long seen as a protege of veteran BJP leader LK Advani, she also was the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha during 2009-14.
Swaraj, a law graduate who practised in the Supreme Court, was elected seven times as a Member of Parliament and three times as a Member of Legislative Assembly.