New Delhi: Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday paid their last respects to senior BJP leader and former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who passed away on Tuesday night after suffering a cardiac arrest.
The former external affair minister had contested the 1999 Lok Sabha election from Bellary in Karnataka against the then Congress president Sonia Gandhi. She, however, lost the contest in the Congress bastion by a relatively small margin of about 55,000 votes.
Also, after the 2004 parliamentary elections, when Congress-led UPA was poised to form a government, Swaraj had threatened to shave her head if Sonia Gandhi became the prime minister due to the foreign origin of the Congress leader.
As the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha during Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) II government, the BJP leader was unsparing in her attacks and helped build momentum against the Congress.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh also visited the residence of the political stalwart and extended sympathy to her family.
“I was shocked to hear about the sudden demise of Smt Sushma Swaraj. In her death our country has lost a respected and dedicated leader,” said Singh in a statement.
Extolling the deceased for her leadership skills, Singh added, “I have fond memories of my association with her when she was Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha. She was a leader of high esteem who was highly respected by everybody irrespective of party-lines. She was a great Parliamentarian and exceptionally talented Minister of the Union Government.”
Late night on Tuesday, Rahul Gandhi took to the microblogging site to pay tribute to the prolific leader.
“I’m shocked to hear about the demise of Sushma Swaraj Ji, an extraordinary political leader, a gifted orator & an exceptional Parliamentarian, with friendships across party lines. My condolences to her family in this hour of grief. May her soul rest in peace. Om Shanti,” Gandhi tweeted.
Swaraj, on Tuesday was admitted to All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), where she breathed her last.
According to sources at AIIMS, the 67-year-old was feeling restless at 9 pm and reached the hospital at around 9:30 pm in an ambulance.
A team of doctors tried to revive her for 70 to 80 minutes but failed in their attempt. Swaraj was declared dead at 10:50 pm.
Swaraj was appointed the foreign minister in the first term of Modi government in 2014. She opted out of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections citing health reasons.