Delhi’s AAP government has announced two-day state mourning in memory of Sushma Swaraj. The former External Affairs Minister was Delhi’s first woman Chief Minister. Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister and senior Aam Aadmi Party leader Manish Sisodia took to Twitter to make the announcement. “Delhi govt will observe two days state mourning as a mark of respect in the memory of former Chief Minister & senior leader respected Sushma Swaraj ji,” Sisodia said on micro-blogging site. In little over fortnight, Delhi lost its two former Chief Ministers. Sheila Dikshit died on July 20. Seventeen days later, Sushma Swaraj passed away due to cardiac arrest. They were the only two women chief ministers of Delhi.
Delhi govt will observe two days state mourning as a mark of respect in the memory of former Chief Minister & senior leader respected Sushma Swaraj ji— Manish Sisodia (@msisodia) August 7, 2019
A stateswoman par excellence, Swaraj had many first to her credits. She was the youngest cabinet minister in Haryana government. She was also the first woman spokesperson for a political party. Before her, it was a men’s bastion. She was the trailblazer for the future women spokespersons. However, Sushma Swaraj’s tenure as Chief Minister of Delhi was very short - from October 13, 1998, to December 3, 1998. Sheila Dikshit succeeded Swaraj as the next Chief Minister of Delhi.
Dikshit, on the other hand, went on to become longest serving woman chief minister who ruled the city state for three consecutive terms from 1998 to 2013. A warm and affable politician, she was a loyalist of the Gandhi family. She was handpicked by Rajiv Gandhi to be part of his council of ministers after he became the prime minister in 1984. She represented the Kannauj Lok Sabha seat then. For her, politics was not only about jousting for power but also about bonding with people and getting re-energised in the process. Born in Kapurthala in Punjab to a non-political family in 1938, Dikshit did her schooling from Convent of Jesus and Mary School in the capital and graduated from Miranda House, University of Delhi. She was married in July 1962 to bureaucrat Vinod Dikshit, whose father Uma Shankar Dikshit was a loyalist of Jawaharlal Nehru and served as a minister in Indira Gandhi’s cabinet in 1971 and later became Governor of Karnataka and West Bengal.
Despite having contrarian views, both the leaders had very amiable relationship. Swaraj and Dikshit both used to admire each other publicly. When Dikshit passed away, Swaraj reached her resident to pay her last tributes. Elated with Modi government’s move to scrap the special status (Article 370), Swaraj tweeted hailing PM Modi for the feat hours before taking last breath.
"Thank you Prime Minister. Thank you very much. I was waiting to see this day in my lifetime," The former external affairs minister wrote on Twitter. Moments after the shocking news broke out, Union Ministers and BJP leaders thronged at AIIMS, Delhi.