With the death of Sushma Swaraj, “the Nation has lost a great Indian personality”: she was a very skilled administrator, a versatile and effective leader” declared Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai and President of the Indian Episcopal Conference (CBCI).
In his message of condolence, published on Wednesday, August 7, the Cardinal recalls the commitment of Sushma Swaraj, as Foreign Minister, in the liberation of Fr Tom Uzhunnalil. “All the Indians abroad who had some difficulty found, in her, an empathetic minister and who did everything to help them.”
Despite the prestigious position in the first Modi government, but due to her health she did not stand for election last March. Previously, she had been Minister of Health in another government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1998-2004).
Many people remember her as the minister who could be contacted via Twitter: to Indians abroad who were in need of diplomatic assistance she would often answer in person on social networks.
Even Fr Tom Uzhunnalil, on hearing the news, commented: “I am very sad for the passing of such a beloved and pleasant personality. I pray for her and her loved ones. I remember when I spoke with her after my liberation: her way of speaking with me was not that of an official authority with an ordinary man. I thought I heard a big sister talking to me.”
Sushma Swaraj, a diabetic, had had a kidney transplant in 2016 and died of a heart attack.
In his message of condolence, Card. Gracias recalls that “Sushma Swaraj led the government delegation for the canonization of Mother Teresa. She had a special devotion to the Mother. On that occasion she met the Holy Father, who later said of her: ‘The Indian Foreign Minister is a very spiritual person.’”