The swearing-in ceremony of the ministers under the NDA government took place yesterday. With this, the Modi government has officially entered its second tenure. While several of the cabinet ministers during the first tenure of the Modi government have been retained, some of them have retired which has led to the induction of fresh faces. A couple of important faces- Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj are missing this time around. While Arun Jaitley, who served as the Finance Minister during the first tenure of the Modi government, opted out of the cabinet, Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister during the first tenure of the Modi government had announced last year that she wouldn’t be contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha polls citing health issues. On the day of swearing-in, she also made it clear that she was opting out of the ministry.
When the Modi government came to power for the first time in 2014, formulation of an effective foreign policy was seen as one of the topmost priorities. Sushma Swaraj, who by that time had already emerged as one of the senior-most leaders of the BJP, was, therefore, tasked with the important job. During her entire tenure, she was always up to the mark and never once disappointed. She conducted herself in a highly dignified manner, constantly working towards improving India’s diplomatic relations. No one can dispute the fact that the foreign policy pursued during the first tenure of the Modi government transformed the way the rest of the world looks at India. Sushma Swaraj, who was at the centre of this transformation, deserves to be credited for her relentless efforts.
More than the foreign policy, Swaraj emerged as one of those ministers under the Modi government who were instrumental in bringing about the innovation of using social media in order to help the ordinary citizens. Swaraj used the Social Media to give the people an occasion to interact with the Indian Ministry of External Affairs or its offices, embassies and high commissions, and help them through this. Whether it was Mrs. Sushma Swaraj’s granting of medical visas on humanitarian grounds to Pakistanis wishing to come to India for treatment of serious medical problems or her issuing of fast track passports, she emerged as one of the most followed and liked politicians on Twitter. She also made many improvements in the passport application process to help the women. She came to limelight every now and then for helping the ordinary citizens facing any issue in any part of the world.
Whether it was the issue of Doklam stand-off or the Indo-Pak tensions following the Pulwama terror attack, the senior cabinet minister during the previous Modi government made it a point to use all her experience and play her part as the External Affairs Minister responsibly. Her recent speech cornering Pakistan over terrorism at the Inaugural plenary of the OIC displayed her oratory skills and her ability to handle sensitive matters adroitly.
Sushma Swaraj has had an illustrious political career. Even though her stupendous performance as the External Affairs Minister during the first tenure of the Modi government is bound to stand out as the highlight of her career, one cannot ignore the role she played when the BJP was still consolidating itself on a national basis. During the previous Vajpayee government, Sushma Swaraj was sworn in as the union cabinet minister of Information and Broadcasting with the additional charge of the Ministry of Telecommunications. During her tenure, she made plenty of improvements, including, declaring film production as an industry, which made the Indian film industry eligible for bank finance.
Swaraj began her political career with the ABVP in the 70s and she became a part of George Fernandes’s legal defence team in 1975. She had actively participated in Jayaprakash Narayan’s Total Revolution Movement. After the Emergency, she joined the BJP and subsequently, she became a national leader of the BJP. At just 25 years of age, she became the youngest cabinet minister of north Indian state of Haryana. She also served as 5th Chief Minister of Delhi from 13 October 1998 to 3 December 1998.
Even as a Leader of Opposition during the UPA days, she proved her worth. The way she mounted stinging attacks on the then Congress-led government displayed her excellent oratory skills. The way she engaged in a poetic duel with the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during a Parliamentary debate and actually succeeded in tearing into the then UPA government had showcased the high standards she maintained as a Member of the Parliament. She has set exceedingly high standards as far as India’s foreign policy is concerned. It can be safely said that she has ended her active electoral career on a very high note.