The mortal remains of former external affairs minister and veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj were consigned to flames with full state honours on Wednesday in the national capital’s Lodhi Road Crematorium. Leaders cutting across party lines, diplomats and foreign dignitaries turned up to pay their last respects.
Swaraj, 67, was rushed to the emergency ward of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on Tuesday night. Doctors later said she died of a cardiac arrest. She is survived by her husband Swaraj Kaushal and daughter Bansuri Swaraj.
Sushma Swaraj, whose political career spanned over five decades, had served as a seven-time member of Parliament, three-time Haryana legislator, the first woman chief minister of Delhi and, in her last stint, as India’s first full-time woman foreign minister.
On Wednesday, the entire top brass of the BJP, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party president Amit Shah and veteran leader L.K. Advani attended her last rites. Former Bhutan prime minister Tshering Tobga was also present.
“Sushma Ji will always be remembered for her exceptional service to the nation," said a tweet by the Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, President Ram Nath Kovind, vice president M. Venkaiah Naidu, several Union ministers, parliamentarians, leaders of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) allies and Opposition leaders, including senior Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, were among the hundreds who paid their last respects at her Jantar Mantar residence.
“Sushmaji was a superb orator, a great parliamentarian and had a rare gift for friendship that won her affection and admiration across the political spectrum," Sonia Gandhi said in her condolence letter. “In our many years together as colleagues in the Lok Sabha, we developed a warm personal relationship and I feel her loss greatly," she added.
World leaders, including Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif and United Nations General Assembly president María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés condoled the death of Swaraj, who had served as the foreign minister in the first term of Modi-led NDA government.