Sushma Swaraj, India's former external affairs minister who made the foreign ministry accessible to the public has died. She was 67.
The senior leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Ms Swaraj suffered a cardiac arrest Tuesday evening in New Delhi. She was foreign minister during the first term of Prime Minister Narendra Modi government from 2014 to 2019. After a renal transplant about three years back, Ms Swaraj opted out of contesting the general elections earlier this year.
Known for helping out Indians in distress around the world, Ms Swaraj was active on social media and often instructed the diplomatic corps to help citizens in foreign countries. She successfully resolved a 2017 stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops along the border, pushed ties with East Asian nations and expanded passport infrastructure in the country.
Leaders cutting across party lines expressed shock at her sudden demise. PM Modi described Ms Swaraj as a remarkable leader who devoted her life to public service and the poor.
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.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 6, 2019
Hours before her death, in a tweet, she hailed PM Modi after a move to revoke special status for Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the state. "I was waiting to see this day in my lifetime," she had said.
"Despite the fact that Modi was himself active in foreign policy, she was able to carve out her own space and was respected around the world for her diplomatic capability," said Manoj Joshi, a distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation think-tank in New Delhi, adding she was seen as a potential prime ministerial candidate. "She was able to develop a direct connect to the people through her ability to respond to requests of individuals which is quite extraordinary for a politician."
At the age of 25, Ms Swaraj became the youngest cabinet minister in northern state of Haryana. She's been elected seventh times as a member of parliament, and also had a stint as chief minister of Delhi in the 1990s. As BJP's highest ranking female member, she contributed to the party's growth.
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