‘People’s Minister’ Sushma Swaraj Cremated with Full State Honours as Nation Mourns Loss
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‘People’s Minister’ Sushma Swaraj Cremated with Full State Honours as Nation Mourns Loss

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Sushma Swaraj, who also served as the Leader of Opposition and chief minister of Delhi, was given full state honours after which her body was cremated in the electric crematorium.

Former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj was cremated with full state honours at the Lodhi Road crematorium here on Wednesday. Hundreds of people, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and veteran party leader Lal Krishna Advani, bade farewell.

Swaraj, who also served as the Leader of Opposition and chief minister of Delhi, was given full state honours after which her body was cremated in the electric crematorium. Bhutan’s Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, several leaders from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) as well as the opposition, were present.

Swaraj died on Tuesday night at the age of 67. The senior BJP leader was brought to AIIMS around 9:30pm and was taken to the emergency ward after suffering a massive cardiac arrest.

Swaraj had put out a tweet on Tuesday evening congratulating Modi after the Centre’s move to revoke the special status for Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the border state into two Union Territories secured Parliament’s approval. “Narendra Modi ji – Thank you Prime Minister. Thank you very much. I was waiting to see this day in my lifetime,” she had said.

The body of the long-time BJP leader on Wednesday was brought to the crematorium from the party office around noon.

Many jostled for a last glimpse as the casket with Swaraj’s mortal remains, wrapped in the tricolour, was put in the hearse in preparation for her final journey. Others tried to capture images on their mobile phones in the main hall of the BJP headquarters and outside as the van rolled across the street.

Political leaders from several states condoled the death of former external affairs Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat expressed grief at Swaraj’s demise, saying it was an irreparable loss for the country’s politics.

“Extremely saddened to hear about Sushma ji’s demise. It is an irreparable loss for the country’s politics. We have lost a great leader and a brilliant orator who was full of human emotions,” he said. Rawat’s Punjab counterpart, Amarinder Singh, said he was shocked to learn about the former Delhi chief minister’s demise and described her as a “dynamic and sensitive” leader.

“Shocked to learn of the sudden demise of Sushma Swaraj ji. I will always remember her as a dynamic and sensitive leader with the ability to empathise with the common people. Will miss her. May your soul rest in peace,” the senior Congress leader said in a tweet.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said he was deeply shocked to learn about Swaraj’s demise. “It is a personal loss for me,” he wrote on Twitter.

Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa paid his last respects to the departed leader and remembered her association with the southern state. He said Swaraj had a close connection with Karnataka since 1999, when she contested the Lok Sabha polls against UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi from Ballari.

“She made it a point to visit Ballari every year for the Varamahalakshmi pooja for a decade. She is fondly remembered by the people for such gestures,” Yediyurappa said. “May her soul rest in peace and may god give the strength to his family and loved ones to endure this loss.”

Yediyurappa also remembered Swaraj as an excellent orator and an exceptional leader who rose to great heights in her political career as a committed soldier of the country. “Sushma Swaraj served as the minister of external affairs and was the second woman to hold the office after Indira Gandhi. Her proactive outreach to people in distress and accessibility to citizens earned her love and respect from the masses,” he said.

The former Delhi chief minister was hailed as India’s “best-loved politician by the global media”, he added. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister EK Palaniswami expressed grief over Swaraj’s demise and hailed her contributions to the country.

He described Swaraj as “one of the highly-respected women leaders” in the world of politics and said her demise was a “great loss” to the country. “I was shocked and grieved on hearing about the demise of Sushma Swaraj, who had held various portfolios including that of external affairs,” Palaniswami said in a statement issued in Chennai.

“She was cordial to leaders of all political hues and her demise is a great loss not just to her family, but the country,” the chief minister said.

Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi and Chief Minister V Narayanasamy also condoled Swaraj’s demise. In her condolence message, Bedi said, “The passing away of Sushma Swaraj is a personal and national loss. She brought warmth and care in her work.”

Narayanasamy described Swaraj as a “veteran Parliamentarian and powerful speaker”. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray expressed grief over the “irreparable loss” his family had suffered following the demise Swaraj, whom party patriarch Bal Thackeray had once backed as the NDA’s prime ministerial face.

He recalled that his father Bal Thackeray shared an affectionate rapport with the BJP leader.

“A resplendent era in India’s politics has come to a halt with the demise of Sushma Swaraj. It is not only the country and the BJP, but the Thackeray family too has suffered an irreparable loss. The rapport (late) Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray and Sushmaji shared was an affectionate one,” Uddhav Thackeray’s office quoted him as saying on Twitter.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik condoled the former external affairs minister’s demise, describing her as a “tall leader and an icon for millions of women”. “As a self-made public persona, she was always eager to help stranded Indians anywhere in the world. She was at the forefront when it came to using social media for providing instant assistance to people in distress.

“Her multi-linguistic skills and convincing oratory made her a leader of the masses and an icon for millions of women,” Patnaik said. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma condoled Swaraj’s demise, hailing her as “one of India’s tallest leaders and an epitome of integrity”.

Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik also expressed grief over Swaraj’s demise. Describing her as a dynamic politician and a symbol of women empowerment who always worked for the country’s betterment, he said it was difficult to fill the space left behind by Swaraj.

In a condolence message, Malik prayed for peace to the departed soul and strength to the bereaved family in this hour of grief.

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