Voices Friday, June 06, 2014 - 05:30
The News Minute | May 26, 2014 | 7.25 pm IST Sushma Swaraj is India’s first woman Foreign Minister, after Indira Gandhi who held the portfolio while she was Prime Minister. Swaraj was also not supposed to be among the four top ministers in Narendra Modi’s cabinet – she opposed him at every opportunity till it was no longer possible. More significantly, she also backed the (wrong) people at the right time in the BJP. Clearly one of the BJP’s most articulate voices from Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh to Bellary in Karnataka, Swaraj, who was the Leader of the Opposition in the last Lok Sabha has silenced all her critics as she now readies to speak for India at a time when the country needs a strong voice in international affairs. She became Haryana’s youngest Cabinet Minister at the age of 25 and has also served as the Chief Minister of Delhi. Swaraj was I&B Minister in the Vajpayee government with additional charge of Telecommunications and was also India’s Health Minister. Most famously, she said she would tonsure her head if Sonia Gandhi became India’s Prime Minister, Swaraj also attracted no end of criticism and questions over her links to the Bellary brothers in Karnataka indicted in the mining scam that rocked the state a few years ago. A seven-time MP (she was just returned from Vidisha Madhya Pradesh), Swaraj takes up her new job at a time when India’s neighbourhood is unstable: there is trouble from Kabul in Afghanistan to Ankara in Turkey, Washington to Moscow and Beijing to Tokyo. A lawyer by training, an orator par excellence and now slated to lead the world’s largest democracy and potentially the largest free-market economy at a time when diplomacy rides on economic might and military preparedness, Swaraj has many challenges ahead. Despite the prime minister's invitations to the heads of SAARC countries, Swaraj will have to negotiate with India's neighbours on a host of prickly issues.

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