As she rushed to meet the Prime Minister and took to Twitter for defence, Sushma Swaraj on Sunday joined a long list of foreign ministers with their share of controversies.
During the UPA-decade, Natwar Singh, Shashi Tharoor, Salman Khurshid and Preeneet Kaur — all four Congress ministers in the foreign office — found themselves in the eye of a storm at different times.
Singh had to resign less than two years into the foreign office over the Volcker report on the alleged oil-for-food programme.
Tharoor, the minister of state who joined politics straight from his stint at the United Nations, had to quit over the IPL controversy involving Sunanda Pushkar, a friend who he later married. Tharoor also drew flak for his “cattle class” tweet when the Congress and the government stopped business class air travel amid an austerity drive.
Though Khurshid did not have to resign, his family-run trust faced charges of misappropriation of funds while Kaur’s name surfaced as an alleged holder of an undisclosed foreign bank account.
Another UPA foreign minister, SM Krishna, became the butt of jokes when he read out a counterpart’s speech at the UN in 2011. Swaraj’s deputy General (retired) VK Singh found himself in hot water on many occasions, including the date of birth row where he allegedly tried to lower his age when he was army chief, addressed a section of the media as “presstitutes” and sent controversial tweets while attending a Pakistan Day function at the neighbour’s embassy in Delhi.
In the past year, the performance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government has often been overshadowed by controversies triggered by his ministerial colleagues.
Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti’s “raamzaade, haramzaade” remarks, minority affairs minister Muktar Abbas Naqvi’s comments that those who want to eat beef should go to Pakistan as well as the CAG report on firms related to road minister Nitin Gadkari’s relatives gave the Opposition a ready supply of ammo.
The Congress may be firing away at the government, but the UPA’s track record, particularly in the second term (2009-2014), had been marred by scandals.
At least five ministers quit because of scandals —Shibu Soren over coal, A Raja and Dayanidhi Maran for telecom, Pawan Bansal for the railway cash-for-posting, Ashwani Kumar for alleged effort to influence the CBI.