Sushma Swaraj () (née Sharma; 14 February 1952 – 6 August 2019) was an Indian politician and a Supreme Court
lawyer. A senior leader of Bharatiya Janata Party
, Swaraj served as the Minister of External Affairs of India
in the first Narendra Modi government
(2014–2019). She was the second woman to hold the office, after Indira Gandhi
. She was elected seven times as a Member of Parliament
and three times as a Member of the Legislative Assembly
. At the age of 25 in 1977, she became the youngest cabinet minister of Indian state
. She also served as 5th Chief Minister of Delhi
for a short duration in 1998 and became the First female Chief Minister of Delhi.
In the 2014 Indian general election
, she won the Vidisha
constituency in Madhya Pradesh
for a second term, retaining her seat by a margin of over 400,000 votes. She became the Minister of External Affairs in the union cabinet on 26 May 2014. Swaraj was called India's "best-loved politician" by the US daily ''Wall Street Journal
''. She decided not to contest the 2019 Indian general election
due to health reasons as she was recovering from a kidney transplant and needed to "save herself from dust and stay safe from infection" and hence did not join the second Modi Ministry in 2019.
According to the doctors at AIIMS New Delhi
, she succumbed to a cardiac arrest following a heart attack on the night of 6 August 2019. She was awarded the Padma Vibhushan
, India's second highest civilian award posthumously in 2020 in the field of Public Affairs.
Early life and education
Sushma Swaraj (née Sharma) was born on 14 February 1952 at Ambala Cantonment
, Haryana, to Hardev Sharma and Shrimati Laxmi Devi.
Her father was a prominent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
member. Her parents hailed from the Dharampura
area of Lahore
, Pakistan. She was educated at Sanatan Dharma College
in Ambala Cantonment
and earned a bachelor's degree with majors in Sanskrit and Political Science.
She studied law at Panjab University, Chandigarh
. ''India Today''. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
A state-level competition held by the Language Department of Haryana saw her winning the best Hindi Speaker award for three consecutive years.
In 1973, Swaraj started practice as an advocate in the Supreme Court of India
She began her political career with Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad
in the 1970s. Her husband, Swaraj Kaushal
, was closely associated with the socialist leader George Fernandes
and Sushma Swaraj became a part of George Fernandes's legal defence team in 1975. She actively participated in Jayaprakash Narayan
's Total Revolution Movement
. After the Emergency
, she joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. Later, she became a national leader of the BJP.
Early political career
She was a member of the Haryana Legislative Assembly
from 1977 to 1982, winning the Ambala Cantonment assembly
seat at the age of 25; and then, again from 1987 to 1990. In July 1977, she was sworn in as a Cabinet Minister in the Janata Party
Government headed by then Chief Minister Devi Lal
. She held the Labour and Employment ministries from 1977 to 1979. Later she became Minister of Education, Food and Civil supplies during 1987 to 1990.
She became State President of the Janata Party
) in 1979, at the age of 27. She was Education Minister of Haryana state in the Bharatiya Janata Party
coalition government from 1987 to 1990.
In April 1990, she was elected as a member of the Rajya Sabha
and remained there until she was elected to the 11th Lok Sabha
from South Delhi constituency
in 1996. Swaraj was elected to the 11th Lok Sabha
from the South Delhi constituency
in the April 1996 elections.
Minister of Information and Broadcasting (1996)
She served as Union Cabinet Minister for Information and Broadcasting during the 13-day government of PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Chief Minister of Delhi (1998)
After a tenure in national level politics, she resigned from the Union Cabinet in October 1998 to take over as the fifth Chief Minister of Delhi
She became the first female Chief Minister of Delhi.
Swaraj resigned from the position in December the same year.
Minister of Information and Broadcasting (2000–2003)
She was re-elected to the 12th Lok Sabha
from South Delhi Parliamentary constituency for a second term, in March 1998. Under the second PM Vajpayee Government, she was sworn in as Union Cabinet Minister for Information and Broadcasting with an additional charge of the Ministry of Telecommunications from 19 March 1998 to 12 October 1998.
Her most notable decision during this period was to declare film production as an industry, which made the Indian film industry
eligible for bank finance. She also started community radio
at universities and other institutions.
In September 1999, Swaraj was nominated by the BJP to contest against the Congress
party's national President Sonia Gandhi
in the 13th Lok Sabha
election, from the Bellary
constituency in Karnataka
, which had always been retained by Congress politicians since the first Indian general election in 1951–52
. During her campaign, she addressed public meetings in the local Kannada
language. She secured votes in just 12 days of her election campaign. However, she lost the election by a 7% margin.
She returned to Parliament in April 2000 as a Rajya Sabha member from Uttar Pradesh
. She was reallocated to Uttrakhand
when the new state was carved out of Uttar Pradesh on 9 November 2000. She was inducted into the Union Cabinet as Minister for Information and Broadcasting, a position she held from September 2000 until January 2003.
Minister of Health & Family Welfare(2003–2004)
She was Minister of Health, Family Welfare
and Parliamentary Affairs
from January 2003 until May 2004, when the National Democratic Alliance
Government lost the general election.
As Union Health Minister, she set up six All India Institute of Medical Sciences
) and Rishikesh
Swaraj was re-elected to the Rajya Sabha
for a third term in April 2006 from Madhya Pradesh
state. She served as the Deputy leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha
till April 2009.
Leader of Opposition, Lok Sabha (2009–2014)
She won the 2009 election for the 15th Lok Sabha
from the Vidisha Lok Sabha constituency in Madhya Pradesh
by the highest margin of over votes. Sushma Swaraj became Leader of Opposition in the 15th Lok Sabha
in place of Lal Krishna Advani
on 21 December 2009, and retained this position till May 2014 when, in the 2014 Indian general election
, her party won a major victory.
Minister of External Affairs (2014–2019)
alt=|Secretary of State John Kerry
and Sushma Swaraj address reporters during news Conference following strategic dialogue
Swaraj had served as the Indian Minister of External Affairs
under Prime Minister Narendra Modi from May 2014 to May 2019. She was responsible for implementing the foreign policy of Narendra Modi
. She was only the second woman to hold this position after Indira Gandhi
While being the Minister of External Affairs of the NDA
government, Swaraj issued an NOC
against a specific query raised by the UK government about the Indo-UK bilateral relationship if the UK granted permission to Lalit Modi
, an Indian fugitive in a cricket scandal who had been staying in Britain since 2010, to attend his wife's surgery in Portugal. She conveyed to the British High Commissioner that they should examine Modi's request as per their rules and wrote "if the British government chooses to give travel documents to Lalit Modi -– that will not spoil our bilateral relations". However, some people mentioned this incident as Swaraj helping Lalit Modi in the travel visa process.
On 12 August 2015, the leader of the Indian National Congress, Mallikarjun Kharge
, moved an Adjournment Motion in the lower house seeking the resignation of Sushma Swaraj due to her alleged conduct in this regard. Initially, the motion was rejected by the Speaker, but it was accepted on Swaraj's insistence. Intervening in the motion, Swaraj clarified that Lalit Modi's right of residency was not cancelled, since the Enforcement Directorate
did not file an extradition request. The Adjournment Motion was subsequently rejected with a voice vote.
Sushma Swaraj was heavily criticised in 2014 when she urged Prime Minister Modi to declare the Bhagavad Gita
as the national book of India.
As External Affairs Minister, she played a pivotal role in bringing back the then 23-year-old hearing and speech-impaired Indian girl named Gita who was stranded in Pakistan for 15 years.
Distinctions and records
In 1977, she became the youngest ever Cabinet Minister in the Government of Haryana
at 25 years of age. In 1979, she became State President of Janata Party, Haryana State at the young age of 27. Sushma Swaraj was the first female Spokesperson of a national political party in India. She has many firsts to her credit as BJP's first female Chief Minister, Union Cabinet Minister, general secretary, Spokesperson, Leader of Opposition and Minister of External Affairs. She is the Indian Parliament's first and the only female MP honoured with the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award
. She has contested 11 direct elections from four states. She has served as the President of the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan in Haryana for four years.
On 19 February 2019 Swaraj accepted the prestigious Grand Cross of Order of Civil Merit
, which was conferred by the Spanish government in recognition of India's support in evacuating its citizens from Nepal
during the earthquake
During the times of the Emergency
, on 13 July 1975, Sushma Swaraj married Swaraj Kaushal
, a peer and fellow advocate at the Supreme Court of India
. The Emergency movement brought together the couple, who then teamed up for the defence of the socialist leader George Fernandes
. Swaraj Kaushal, a senior advocate of Supreme Court of India
and a criminal lawyer, also served as Governor of Mizoram
from 1990 to 1993. He was a member of parliament from 1998 to 2004.
The couple have a daughter, Bansuri, who is a graduate from Oxford University
and a Barrister at Law from Inner Temple
Sushma Swaraj's sister Vandana Sharma is an associate professor of political science in a government college for girls in Haryana. Her brother Dr. Gulshan Sharma is an Ayurveda
doctor based in Ambala.
On 10 December 2016 she underwent a kidney transplant at AIIMS
, Delhi with the organ being harvested from a living unrelated donor. The surgery was reported to be successful.
On 6 August 2019, Sushma Swaraj reportedly suffered a heart attack in the evening after which she was rushed to AIIMS New Delhi
, where she later died of a cardiac arrest. She was cremated the next day with full state honours
at the Lodhi crematorium in Delhi.
* 1977–82 Elected as Member, Haryana Legislative Assembly.
* 1977–79 Cabinet Minister, Labour and Employment, Government of Haryana
* 1987–90 Elected as Member, Haryana Legislative Assembly.
* 1987–90 Cabinet Minister, Education, Food and Civil Supplies, Government of Haryana.
*1991–1996 Member of Rajya Sabha
* 1996 6 May – 1 June
– Union Cabinet Minister, Information and Broadcasting.
* 2000–06 Member, Rajya Sabha (4th term).
* 2006–09 pril 2006 -
Member, Rajya Sabha (5th term).Detailed Profile – – Members of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) – Who's Who – Government: National Portal of India
India.gov.in. Retrieved 30 July 2011.
* 2009–14 6 May 2009 – 18 May 2014Member, 15th Lok Sabha (6th term).
* 2009-09 June 2009 – 21 December 2009Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
* 2009–2014 1 December 2009 – 26 May 2014Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
* 2014–2019 6 May 2014 – 24 May 2019Member, 16th Lok Sabha (7th term).
* 2014–2019 6 May 2014 – 29 May 2019Minister of External Affairs in the Union of India.
Awards and honours
**Padma Vibhushan ''(posthumously)'' (2020)
**Grand Cross of the Order of Civil Merit (19 February 2019)
Places named after her
* In 2020, Government of India renamed Foreign Service Institute of India after her as Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service.
* In 2020, Government of India renamed Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra after her as Sushma Swaraj Bhawan.
* The bus station of Ambala City is named after her in 2020.
*List of foreign ministers in 2017
*List of current foreign ministers
MEA : Profile of Minister of External Affairs
Detailed Profile: Smt. Sushma Swaraj
Official Biographical Sketch in Lok Sabha Website
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