- Smriti Irani was among first leaders to reach AIIMS on Tuesday night
- Many leaders see her as mentor who hand-held them through politics
- Ms Swaraj and Ms Irani were cabinet colleagues in PM Modi's first term
Sushma Swaraj, one of the BJP's most beloved leaders, has left a party in grief. Many party leaders paid an emotional tribute to a politician they described as the mentor who hand-held them through politics, parliament and the government.
Ms Irani was among the first leaders to reach Delhi's AIIMS hospital after news emerged that Sushma Swaraj was critically ill. On Twitter, she posted a poignant message about a lunch that never happened.
"I have an axe to grind with you Didi . You made Bansuri pick a restaurant to take me for a celebratory lunch. You left without fulfilling your promise to the two of us," Ms Irani tweeted, referring to Ms Swaraj's daughter.
I have an axe to grind with you Didi . You made Bansuri pick a restaurant to take me for a celebratory lunch. You left without fulfilling your promise to the two of us.— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) August 6, 2019
In another tweet, Ms Irani, the Women and Child Development Minister, wrote: "The untimely death of Didi has left numerous party workers like me shocked. I express my sympathy towards the bereaved family. As a party worker, if we dedicate our lives towards women upliftment, it would be a true tribute to her."
Ms Swaraj, former foreign minister, and Ms Irani had been cabinet colleagues in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first term.
Ms Swaraj, who had been unwell for some time, had decided not to contest the national election or join the government after PM Modi won a second term.
"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," PM Modi tweeted, calling her death a personal loss.
He also said a "glorious chapter in Indian politics comes to an end".