By Philip Li Ching Hum
We are deeply grieved at the news of the demise of Sushma Swaraj Ji, a great friend of Mauritius. We still recall her state visit here on the occasion of the celebration of the Arrival of Indentured Immigrants at Aapravasi Ghat. Her strong personality and her eloquence have reverberated around the walls of the Ghat and left behind a lasting impression on us. She won the hearts of Mauritians, and became a source of inspiration and hope to us.
Born on 14 February 1953 in Haryana, Sushma Swaraj, holder of a Bachelor’s degree in Sanskrit and Political Science and thereafter an LLB battled her way on the political arena to reach the firmament of a ministerial posting as External Affairs Minister of India. She was the second woman to occupy such a high ministerial post after Indira Gandhi. Swaraj Ji was called India’s ’’best loved politician’’. She was the paragon of grace and dignity. She had the formidable mind of an erudite. As an extremely knowledgeable person she possessed an unsurpassed eloquence.
She sacrificed her career in the judiciary as a Supreme Court lawyer to join the political fray during the bleak years of the Emergency. She started her political career with George Fernandes (the socialist) and Jay Prakash Narayan (famed for his civil disobedience movement) in the seventies. She was a prolific orator and an outstanding parliamentarian admired across party lines. She soon became a BJP stalwart. She contested 11 direct elections. But because of her ill health she did not contest the recent parliamentary elections. She had a kidney transplant in 2016.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “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 bettering the lives of the poor. Sushma Swaraj Ji was one of her kind who was a source of inspiration for crores of people.” Indian President Ram Nath Kovind wrote: “India has lost a much loved leader who epitomized dignity, courage and integrity in public life. Ever willing to help others, she will always be remembered for her service to the people of India.” She was an iron lady with a golden heart. She never yielded to pressure.
Sushma Swaraj Ji suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi on Tuesday 6th August 2019. Her demise is a terrible loss not only to India but also to Mauritius. She will be fondly remembered for having strengthened our ties with Mother India (Bharat). Mauritius has lost a true and sincere friend.
* Published in print edition on 9 August 2019