Sushma Swaraj championed India's interests on every platform

What would make her stand tall was her single minded focus on helping Indian diaspora and Indians in distress.

Sushma Swaraj championed India's interests on every platform
It was not just her outreach on Twitter that would define Sushma Swaraj’s stint as the External Affairs Minister, the second woman to hold that post after Indira Gandhi and the first full-fledged woman minister in the high-profile ministry.

While PM Narendra Modi initiated many foreign policy moves over the past five years and continue to do so, Swaraj, drawing from her experience as Leader of Opposition ably implemented those policies be it in the neighbourhood or vis-à-vis USA, China and Russia. Her chemistry with all her counterparts was exceptionally warm as visible during Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi’s India visit last December and OIC meet in UAE in March where India was invited for the first time.

Swaraj’s oratory skills was legendary be it in Parliament or UNGA as she adjusted to every platform delivering message with a no-nonsense approach. She was equally at ease at her annual press meets as the External Affairs Minister or in her earlier portfolios under then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. She made sure that annual lunch organised by MEA every winter not only included foreign affairs correspondents but also reporters whom she have known as a Leader of Opposition and even earlier.

While she enjoyed personal rapport with many a South Asian leader, she could be as engaging as she was when she visited Pakistan in 2015 and as cold as she was when she met her counterparts in the post Pathankot and Uri period. At the last RIC Foreign Ministers meet in China Swaraj conveyed in clear terms India’s expectations from China in declaring Masood Azhar a global terrorist. It was she who proposed that India and China celebrate 70 years of bilateral ties through equal responsibilities of hosting a series of events in 2020.

Her memory was legendary: she could not only recall any event or name with ease, but also stick to the brief given by the officers in MEA. What would, however, make her stand tall was her single minded focus on assisting Indian diaspora and Indians in distress and made it a habit for diplomats to update her through Twitter. Indian embassies world over are no longer just buildings of concrete and diplomacy, but also point of assistance.

Swaraj was one of India's most followed politicians on Twitter with over 13 million followers. Her last tweet, just three hours before her death, praised Modi for the Centre's move on Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, had been liked over 150,000 times and retweeted over 37,000 times.

From reuniting families to helping citizens recover their passport and travel home safe, every request for help, whether small or big, would get her attention and be instantly resolved if it's anywhere in her domain as foreign minister.

Memorable tweets:

An Indian man in Malaysia sought Ms Swaraj's help in March to get his friend back from India but his tweet had grammatical errors. After another man asked him to write to the minister in Hindi or Punjabi, Ms Swaraj replied saying: "There is no problem. After becoming Foreign Minister, I have learnt to follow English of all accents and grammar."

Swaraj tweeted a witty response in March to a user who asked why she was using "Chowkidar" as a prefix for her Twitter handle. "Because I am doing Chowkidari of Indian interests and Indian nationals abroad," she had replied.

Responding to another tweet when a user said that the minister "certainly" wasn't tweeting herself, and it was probably a "some PR guy" who was doing the job for her, she replied: "Rest assured - it's me, not my ghost".

Once when a man sought her help and said he was "stuck on Mars", she gave a prompt witty response. "Even if you are stuck on the Mars, Indian Embassy there will help you."

To another Twitter user who asked if she could help him with a "defective refrigerator", she wrote: "Brother I cannot help you in matters of a refrigerator. I am very busy with human beings in distress."

In 2016, when she was not able to attend the swearing-in ceremony of 19 council ministers at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, she gave an advice to the media in a cheeky tweet that read: "Media - Pl avoid the headline : 'Sushma skips Oath Ceremony
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