Sonia Gandhi pays tribute to Sushma Swaraj, the politician who threatened to shave off her head in protest
Standing before her dead body, was UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, bidding adieu to her political opponent who once threatened to shave off her head in protest against Sonia becoming the prime minister
It was a heart-wrenching moment…Wrapped in red which symbolizes love and sacrifice with a Bindi on the forehead and vermillion on the head, was lying former External Affairs Minister and BJP stalwart Sushma Swaraj who breathed her last on Tuesday evening.
Standing before her dead body, was the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, bidding adieu to her political opponent who threatened to shave off her head in protest against Sonia Gandhi becoming the prime minister.
15 years ago, in 2004 when after UPA’s victory Sonia Gandhi was an inch away from the Prime Minister’s chair, Sushma Swaraj, who became a minister in Devi Lal’s government in Haryana at the tender age of 25, threatened to shave off her head in protest.
In a very outrageous statement, Swaraj had threatened to “don white Sari, sleep on the floor and eat only chickpeas, if Sonia Gandhi were to be sworn in as the Prime Minister of India.”
For a politician like Swaraj - who was regarded as the poster woman for Hindu womanhood, always flaunting her Hindu identity - Bindi and Sindoor - Sonia Gandhi’s birth identity was against Indianness. However, for the later it is former’s “empathy, compassion and courage” that matters.
In a letter addressed to the grief-stricken family, Sonia Gandhi paid heartfelt tributes to her “foe turned personal friend.”
“She made herself accessible to even the humblest person, established a warm rapport with the people from all walks of life, and with her empathy and compassion, gave Indian diplomacy a human face as she reached out to help every Indian citizen in distress, ” reads the letter written by Sonia Gandhi to Swaraj’s husband Swaraj Kaushal who served as the governor of Mizoram between 1990 and 1993.
“In our many years together as colleagues in the Lok Sabha, we developed a warm personal relationship and I feel her loss greatly. The same courage and grit that was a hallmark of the Sushma-ji’s political life, she showed in her personal life as well, as she faced her serious ailments with incredible fortitude,” notes the letter.
Swaraj who went to Bellary to fight against Sonia Gandhi in 1999, though lost the election but won the friendship of Sonia Gandhi.
In Sushma’s word she had “lost the battle but won the war.”
A brilliant and gifted speaker, and a self-made woman politician, Sushma had close links with Socialist movement in India.
Many liked to call her a “saffron-socialist”.
Along with Sonia Gandhi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and scores of Congress leaders paid tributes to the BJP leader who was once described as “India’s best parliamentary affairs minister” by the former speaker of Lok Sabha, Somnath Chatterjee.