Multiple explosions in Colombo.
A major crisis in Libya's capital Tripoli.
And India's external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, is on her toes, working, helping, tweeting helpline numbers, alerting various departments and assuring people with latest updates.
Indians in distress may please contact Indian High Commission in Colombo. We will provide you all assistance. @IndiainSL Our helpline numbers are : +94777903082,+94112422788,+94112422789, +94112422789. Pls RT— Chowkidar Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) April 21, 2019
In the last four years, Sushma Swaraj has earned unrivaled acclaim as a foreign minister who is so easy to reach out to. And that continues with the same energy and commitment in the last leg of her government — which explains why, if the NDA gets a second term, it must ensure that Sushma Swaraj remains the external affairs minister. Although she is not contesting in the Lok Sabha Elections 2019, she can be nominated through the Rajya Sabha.
Here is a response from Indian Consulate in San Francisco in 7 minutes. This is how our missions function. I am proud of you. https://t.co/yyNORFlFKn— Chowkidar Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) April 20, 2019
In 2009, following her landslide victory from the Vidisha Lok Sabha constituency — a BJP stronghold — Sushma Swaraj became Leader of Opposition in Parliament. In 2014, she again won the seat and became foreign minister. But in the run-up to the Madhya Pradesh Assembly Elections 2018, Sushma announced that she would not contest in the Lok Sabha elections given certain health issues. She is not campaigning for any party candidates as well.
“My health is good. But I am constantly taking precautions. Doctors have asked me to stay safe from infection and also to avoid dust. I have to save myself from dust. No matter how much I try, I can’t avoid dust during elections,” Sushma said.
But this was not a signal to end her political career, she firmly asserted.
Sushma Swaraj has stamped her portfolio with a great performance. The Colombo crisis underlined that. (Photo: Reuters)
The timing of this abrupt announcement did stun many party veterans. Following speculation that all was not well among top-rung leaders in the party, there were attempts to downplay the announcement. The party had to bite the bullet in Madhya Pradesh as well as the Congress wrested the state from the BJP. Some believe far more active involvement by Sushma there may have made a difference.
But Sushma Swaraj is one leader who, despite the gossip of Delhi politics and the buzz, somehow simply could not be weighed down by the 'old guard' versus 'new guard' tussle in her party. She was significant during the Vajpayee era. She didn’t let that significance get whittled down in the Modi-Shah era, though she was reportedly not a staunch supporter of Narendra Modi’s PM candidateship in 2014. Yet, she made peace and bagged a significant portfolio — upon which she has stamped her mark.
Of course, there are critics who term her a ‘Twitter minister’ who doesn’t get to accompany PM Narendra Modi on all his foreign trips, doesn’t get to hold a crucial press conference and is not in the thick of foreign affairs issues that a minister is supposed to be. But, with her accessibility, her readiness to help and her sharp replies to trolls, she has shown her detractors, both inside and outside the party, what it takes even to be a ‘Twitter minister’ — and how to come out of all challenges with flying colours.
If the BJP comes back to power, retaining Sushma Swaraj will be a crucial decision for it to take.