BJP stalwart Sushma Swaraj, who notched up several firsts in a political career spanning four decades, passed away on Tuesday night after suffering cardiac arrest. The list includes being the country's youngest-ever Cabinet Minister, the first woman Chief Minister of Delhi and the first woman spokesperson for any national political party.
Here's a look at her illustrious career graph:
Although Swaraj's association with the Sangh started at birth - she was born into a family of RSS members in Haryana in 1953 - her active brush with politics began as a student leader in 1970. She was closely associated with Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of RSS and went on to join the Janata Party. In fact, Swaraj was an active participant in the anti-Emergency movement.
She started practicing as a Supreme Court lawyer after passing her LL.B. at Punjab University
She became the country's youngest cabinet minister at the mere age of 25 when she joined the Haryana government under Devi Lal. In the assembly elections that year, she had won the Ambala Cantonment seat with nearly 64 per cent votes, double that of her closest rival. She went on to serve two more terms in the legislative assembly, in 1977-82 and 1987-90.
Swaraj became the Janata Party's State President in Haryana, a position she held for four years
Swaraj joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and was eventually appointed secretary of the party. She held the position of the all India Secretary of the party for two years. She played a key role in strengthening the BJP across the country through the 1990s.
Swaraj was elected as a member of the Rajya Sabha
During the 13-day BJP government under the leadership of Atal Behari Vajpayee, she was appointed as the Minister for Information and Broadcasting. This was the seven-time MP's second term as a member of the Lok Sabha.
After Vajpayee led the BJP to power in 1998, she once again became the Information and Broadcasting Minister. She was also the first woman Chief Minister of Delhi, holding the position for a short period between October-December 1998.
Swaraj contested against the then Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Bellary, Karnataka, in the 1999 Lok Sabha polls. Though she lost the fight, she grew in stature.
She was re-elected as a Rajya Sabha member
Fom January 2003 to May 2004, she served as the Minister of Health and Family Welfare as well as the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs
When the Congress won the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, the grand old party initially backed UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi for the prime ministerial post. In a highly emotional moment, Swaraj vociferous protested against it, vowing to shave her head and live her entire life like a Hindu widow if Gandhi was sworn-in. She claimed that it would hurt her "sensibilities" if a foreigner would lead the country post Independence.
Swaraj made history once again when she became the first woman Leader of Opposition, replacing her mentor Lal Krishna Advani. She held this position till 2014.
Swaraj bagged the prestigious External Affairs portfolio under the Modi government. She was the second woman to take charge of this ministry after Indira Gandhi.
Her Twitter follower count crossed the 11 million threshold, making Swaraj the world's most followed woman leader, and of course the most followed foreign minister. In November the same year she announced she will not be contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. "I am not retiring from politics. It is just that I am not contesting the next Lok Sabha election due to my health issues," Swaraj had tweeted at the time.
She became the first Indian to address the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting as the guest of honour. This was a diplomatic victory for India, not only because it was the country's first invite in five decades but also because it came amid high Indo-Pak tensions. Less than a week before the OIC meet, the Indian Air Force had bombed Jaish-e-Mohammed's Balakot camp across the Line of Control (LoC) in retaliation to the Pulwama attack.