Tributes poured in on Wednesday for Sushma Swaraj from politicians across party lines and the international community. The veteran leader’s house and the BJP headquarters, where her body lay in state, saw a steady stream of visitors who came to pay their last respects.
President Ram Nath Kovind, vice-president M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, former President Pranab Mukherjee, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, former deputy PM LK Advani and several ministers were among those who visited. Condolences poured in from envoys of Japan, the US, Maldives, Russia and Taiwan, as well as the diplomatic community that had engaged with Sushma when she served as external affairs minister. They remembered her as a “great woman in Indian politics”.
PM Modi turned emotional as he paid his respects to Sushma on Wednesday morning. He put out a series of tweets remembering her. “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,” he said.
Speaking to reporters after paying his last respects, home minister Amit Shah said as external affairs minister, Sushma had enhanced the country’s reputation across the world and her death had left a void which would be hard to fill. “Her untimely demise is not a big loss for BJP alone, but also for national politics,” he said.
Former PM Manmohan Singh said Sushma was a leader of high esteem and an exceptionally talented minister. Congress Parliamentary Party chief Sonia Gandhiremembered her as a superb orator and a great parliamentarian who had the “rare gift for friendship that won her affection and admiration across the political spectrum”. In a letter to Swaraj Kaushal — Sushma’s husband— Sonia wrote, “The same courage and grit that was a hallmark of Sushma-ji’s political life, she showed in her personal life as well, as she faced serious ailments with incredible fortitude.”