Sushma Swaraj (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 of Haryana.

Career

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.

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.

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 in 2015.

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