The body of Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was on Wednesday taken from the party headquarters to Lodhi Road crematorium in New Delhi, where she was cremated with full state honours. Swaraj died after suffering a cardiac arrest, at All India Institute of Medical Sciences on Tuesday night.
Swaraj’s daughter Bansuri Swaraj performed the last rites, reported ANI. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and former Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay were among the many leaders who attended the rituals at Lodhi Road crematorium.
Swaraj’s death came as a shock to many. President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the tributes to Swaraj, who was popular during her time in the government for her hands-on approach to solving the problems of people who reached out to her through Twitter.
Modi said Swaraj “was a source of inspiration for crores of people” and her death was a “personal loss”.
“A glorious chapter in Indian politics comes to an end,” he tweeted. “India grieves the demise of a remarkable leader who devoted her life to public service and bettering lives of the poor,” said Modi. “Sushma Swaraj Ji was one of her kind, who was a source of inspiration for crores of people.”
Congress leaders said she would be remembered fondly “as an ever available” minister who helped “tons of people in distress”. Senior BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani called Swaraj’s death an “irreparable loss”. “The nation has lost a remarkable leader. I will miss Sushmaji’s presence immensely. May her soul rest in peace”.
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama also offered his condolences. “Sushma Swaraj enjoyed immense respect for her compassionate concern for people and her friendly demeanour,” ANI quoted him as saying. “In devoting herself to service of others, she led a very meaningful life.”
S Jaishankar, who succeeded Swaraj as external affairs minister, said “the whole nation grieves, the foreign ministry even more so”. A number of foreign envoys also paid tributes to the former minister at her home. Her body was then taken to the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters.
Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Nirmala Sitharaman, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Harsh Vardhan, Prakash Javadekar and Smriti Irani were among the top leaders who visited All India Institute of Medical Sciences last night to pay their respects.
The Delhi and Haryana governments announced a two-day state mourning, ANI reported. No cultural events will take place during this time.
Swaraj served as the minister of external affairs in the Narendra Modi-led government from 2014 to 2019. She was also a Union minister between 1977 and 1980 in the Janata Party government, and had served as the minister for information and broadcasting in Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance government from 2000 to 2003.
Swaraj was a former chief minister of Delhi, and had served as the leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha from 2009 to 2014. Last year, Swaraj, who was an MP from Vidisha constituency in Madhya Pradesh, said she would not contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections because of health reasons.