Former Indian foreign minister dies at age 67

A vehicle carrying the body of former Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj arriving at the headquarters of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in New Delhi yesterday.
A vehicle carrying the body of former Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj arriving at the headquarters of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in New Delhi yesterday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

NEW DELHI • Ms Sushma Swaraj, former Indian external affairs minister and a leader of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), died on Tuesday at a hospital in New Delhi. She was 67.

The Press Trust of India said that she died of a heart attack after being rushed to the hospital on Tuesday evening.

Ms Swaraj was the external affairs minister in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Cabinet from 2014 to this year.

She distinguished herself with an active presence on social media, often replying to requests for help from Indians abroad.

After undergoing a kidney transplant during her tenure as minister, Ms Swaraj decided not to run for this year's general election.

In a series of tweets, Mr Modi said Ms Swaraj's death was a "personal loss" and that she had worked tirelessly at India's External Affairs Ministry.

Ms Swaraj's last tweets on Tuesday thanked Mr Modi for bringing a measure to Parliament to revoke the special constitutional status of Indian-administered Kashmir.

She called it a "bold and historic decision". She wrote: "I was waiting to see this day in my lifetime."

Opposition Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi described Ms Swaraj as "an extraordinary political leader, a gifted orator and an exceptional parliamentarian with friendships across party lines".

Ms Swaraj received a law degree and began her political career in the 1970s closely associated with socialist leaders.

 
 

She later joined the BJP and rose to become one of its top leaders, last serving as India's foreign minister, only the second woman in the role after Mrs Indira Gandhi.

Ms Swaraj was a member of the Haryana state legislature from 1977 to 1982 and again from 1987 to 1990. She also served as the chief minister of Delhi in the late 1990s.

She is survived by her husband Swaraj Kaushal, a senior advocate of the Supreme Court of India, and her daughter Bansuri, also an advocate.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2019, with the headline 'Former Indian foreign minister dies at age 67'. Print Edition | Subscribe