When Sushma Swaraj began her political career with the Janata Party, her detractors in the BJP called her an “outsider” to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the party’s ideological fountainhead.
They labelled her a socialist nominee to the Janata Party government in Haryana under Devi Lal. Swaraj, however, would say it was her husband Swaraj Kaushal who should be called a socialist and that her father, a prominent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader, had been a ‘swayamsevak’.
She joined the BJP later and rose within the ranks to become one of its most prominent women leaders.
BJP veteran LK Advani oversaw her growth in the party and entrusted her with important responsibilities, including that of general secretary and spokesperson.
Here are some interesting strands of Sushma Swaraj’s illustrious political career:
1969-70: Best student of S.D. College, Ambala Cantt.
1974: Had campaigned for Finance Minister Arun Jaitley when he had contested for the post of President of the Delhi University (DU) Students’ Union.
1976: Sushma Swaraj was an advocate by profession. She came on to her own as a defiant young lawyer for George Fernandes in Baroda Dynamite Case during the Emergency. Fernandes was arrested in June 1976.
1977: Youngest Cabinet minister in Devi Lal (Janata Party) government in Haryana. She was only 25.
1977-79: Best speaker of Haryana State consecutively for 3 years.
1998: Became the first female Chief Minister of Delhi. In 1998, Sushma Swaraj as the Union Information & Broadcasting minister conferred industry status on Bollywood, making it eligible for bank finance for the first time.
1999: In Lok Sabha polls, Swaraj lost (she won 7 parliamentary and 3 assembly polls, respectively) to Sonia Gandhi in Congress bastion Bellary, Karnataka by 7 percent votes. She had only 12 days to campaign and took the opportunity to learn Kannada.
Sushma Swaraj and her husband Swaraj Kaushal made it to Limca Book of Records as the ‘Most Distinguished Couple’ for their achievements and distinction at a young age. They were adjudged as the youngest-ever achievers in their respective fields.
Jan 2003 and May 2004: Set up six AIIMS as Union health minister
2004: First & only female MP to be honoured with the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award. Also, played a major role in the passage of Telangana Bill.
She had many firsts to her credit such as being the country’s youngest-ever Cabinet Minister, first woman Chief Minister of Delhi and the first woman spokesperson for any national political party.