President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and top party leaders, including UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, were among the hundreds of people who paid their last respects to former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj at her residence on Wednesday.
The BJP leader, known as a powerful orator and the minister with the people’s touch, passed away here on Tuesday night after a massive cardiac arrest. She was 67.
Home Minister Amit Shah, who also went to Swaraj’s residence, said her death has created a great void that would be hard to fill.
“Crores of people who loved her are sad and will miss her. She was a bright star of Indian politics and an able administrator. In the last five years as foreign minister she has made India proud globally under the leadership of the PM. Her absence will be felt for a long time. I pray that she rests in peace,” he told reporters.
Veteran leader L K Advani, who was known as Swaraj’s mentor, was tearful as he filed past the body of his long-time compatriot.
Remembering her fondly, he said in a statement that she never missed bringing his favourite chocolate cake to him on his birthday.
She was a promising young activist who he had inducted into his team, he noted.
“And over the years, she became one of the most popular and prominent leaders of our party- in fact, a role model for women leaders. A brilliant orator, I was often amazed at her ability to recall incidents, events and present them with utmost clarity and eloquence,” the 91-year-old leader said.
Among the others paid their homage to Swaraj at her Jantar Mantar residence were Vice President M Venkiah Naidu, Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla, BJP working president J P Nadda, Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, BSP chief Mayawati, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Ghulam Nabi Azad and CPI(M)’s Brinda Karat.
“We had a relationship of a brother and sister and she maintained cordial relations with leaders of other parties. She did a wonderful job as a foreign minister,” said Azad.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, TMC leader Derek O’ Brien, yoga guru Ramdev, BJP leader Hema Malini and Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi.
Swaraj’s body will be taken to the BJP headquarters from her residence and then for her final rites at the Lodhi Road crematorium.
Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani pays tribute to Sushmaji.