Sushma Swaraj may not be part of the Modi government this time, but she leaves a legacy of an easily-accessible external affairs minister who helped the diaspora in distress by her revolutionary social media outreach.
In a tweet, soon after the oath-taking ceremony, Swaraj thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for giving her the opportunity to serve both the countrymen and diaspora community as the external affairs minister and wished the new government success.
From being the youngest cabinet minister in the Haryana government to becoming the first woman Delhi chief minister, Swaraj has been a politician with many firsts.
Some of the key ministers in the previous Modi government, including Swaraj, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Maneka Gandhi were not part of the new dispensation.
Swaraj had opted out of fighting the Lok Sabha elections due to health reasons. She was a celebrated minister in the previous cabinet after she earned the reputation of being an easily-accessible external affairs minister.
Her interaction with the diaspora on social media, established her as someone who can be reached in distress with just the click of a mouse. Several path-breaking measures such as the passport infrastructure expansion and enhanced engagement with the East were the highlight of her tenure. Swaraj, 66, became the external affairs minister in 2014 when Modi’s first cabinet was sworn-in on May 26.
She is only the second woman to hold the portfolio after Indira Gandhi, who briefly kept the external affairs ministry under her while being the Prime Minister.
Swaraj has many firsts to her credit such as being the youngest cabinet minister in the Haryana government, first woman Chief Minister of Delhi and the first woman spokesperson for any national political party in the country.
During her tenure as the external affairs minister, Swaraj handled several strategically-sensitive issues, including Indo-Pak and Sino-India relations.
Her role in resolving the prickly Doklam standoff between the Indian and Chinese sides will be remembered.
India’s joining of the SCO was also a key achievement during her tenure as external affairs minister.
In 1977, at 25 years of age, Swaraj became the youngest cabinet minister — she held the education portfolio in Haryana. Swaraj, a law graduate who practised in Supreme Court, has been elected seven times as a Member of Parliament and three times as a Member of the Legislative Assembly. She began her political career with the ABVP in the 1970s. Member of the Haryana Assembly from 1977 to 1982 from Ambala Cantonment, she was sworn in as a cabinet minister in Devi Lal government.
Swaraj has previously also held the portfolios of Information and Broadcasting, Telecommunications, Health and Family Welfare, and Parliamentary Affairs in the Union cabinet.
Swaraj is married to Swaraj Kaushal, a designated senior advocate of Supreme Court of India who served as governor of Mizoram from 1990 to 1993. Kaushal was also a Member of Parliament from 1998 to 2004.
Swaraj has been the recipient of the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award.