In a short stint as Dehi chief minister, Sushma Swaraj was able to leave an imprint by going beyond the call of duty(Mohd Zakir/HT PHOTO)
In a short stint as Dehi chief minister, Sushma Swaraj was able to leave an imprint by going beyond the call of duty(Mohd Zakir/HT PHOTO)

A disciple of Krishna, Sushma Swaraj played many roles

A student of Sanskrit, Sushma Swaraj was fond of reading poetry. A book shelf, tucked in one corner of her Safdarjung lane office was meant for people from her constituency.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By Kumar Uttam
UPDATED ON JUN 11, 2020 03:32 PM IST

When she occupied the office of the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, her ground floor chamber in Parliament complex had a big glittering portrait of Lord Krishna placed on the wall opposite her huge table.

“In whatever he (Krishna) did in his life. He put his 100 per cent into it,” she said. “He played many roles in his life and with utmost perfection.”

Sushma Swaraj drew inspiration from Lord Krishna, and perhaps, she too played most of her roles in life to perfection.

As the BJP spokesman in 90s, she effortlessly articulated the view of her party that was called communal.

In a short stint as Dehi chief minister, Swaraj was able to leave an imprint by going beyond the call of duty and with moves such as the midnight raids at police stations to improve law and order situation in the national capital.

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As health minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, Swaraj spearheaded the pulse polio programme, which won praises inside and outside the country.

As deputy to LK Advani in the opposition and then leader of the opposition of the Lok Sabha, Swaraj led the BJP’s charge on the Manmohan Singh government. Her knack to floor rivals with sharp oratory was unmatched.

A strict vegetarian, Swaraj lived a simple life. So much so that her official residence didn’t had a living room to host visiting US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. A temporary structure was created for this purpose.

In leisure, she would play ‘Shiv Tandav Strotam’ written from Ravana to eulogize lord Shiva. “It gives me peace,” she once said.

A student of Sanskrit, Swaraj was fond of reading poetry. A book shelf, tucked in one corner of her Safdarjung lane office was meant for people from her constituency.

A note posted on the bookshelf read “people from Vidisha can take one book from this shelf”. Every visitor would be greeted with a glass of water and sweets. “After all, they have come to meet me,” she would say.

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Before the 2014 Lok sabha election, she updated her profile on Twitter saying “contested 10 direct elections”. The last was her eleventh.

In her career spanning several decades, Swaraj never shied away from taking the challenge head on. When Lal Krishna Advani called senior leaders of his party ahead of the 2019 election, where he was the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, and suggested senior leaders to contest the Lok sabha polls, Swaraj was first to show readiness. A member of the Rajya Sabha, she was chosen to contest from Vidisha.

Madhya Pradesh was just another stop in her career that saw her contesting assembly, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha elections from Haryana, Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Delhi. She unsuccessfully contested against Sonia Gandhi from bellary in Karnataka. She lost but opened the southern gateway for the BJP.

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