Former foreign minister Sushma Swaraj died at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi last night following cardiac arrest, hospital sources said. She was 67.
The veteran Bharatiya Janata Party leader was brought to the hospital in a critical condition but soon passed away, the sources said.
Senior Ministers Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Prakash Javadekar and BJP working president J P Nadda arrived at the hospital as they got the news.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed condolences on the death of Swaraj, who was the external affairs minister in his first government, lauding her services in helping Indians abroad.
"An excellent administrator, Sushma Ji set high standards in every Ministry she handled. She played a key role in bettering India's ties with various nations. As a Minister we also saw her compassionate side, helping fellow Indians who were in distress in any part of the world,” he tweeted.
"A glorious chapter in Indian politics comes to an end. India grieves the demise of a remarkable leader who devoted her life to public service and bettering lives of the poor. Sushma Swaraj Ji was one of her kind, who was a source of inspiration for crores of people."
The opposition Congress expressed condolences.
"We are saddened to hear about the untimely demise of Smt Sushma Swaraj. Our condolences to her family and loved ones," the party tweeted.
Swaraj did not contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and chose to sit out of the government this year due to her health.
After Modi's swearing-in ceremony last month, Swaraj wrote an emotional message on Twitter, thanking the prime minister for giving her the opportunity to hold the office for five years.
"Prime Minister, you gave me an opportunity to serve our countrymen and overseas Indians as the Foreign Minister for five years and personally, also, gave me respect throughout my tenure. I am very grateful to you. I pray that our government becomes very successful," Swaraj had tweeted.
She was an important link between the government and the people. Many political observers viewed Swaraj as a challenger to Modi in the initial months of the government.
However, she adjusted to the role and gave the external affairs ministry a human face for the first time. She was the troubleshooter for any Indian stuck anywhere abroad.
She took a personal interest in resolving minor issues like issuance of visa to the needy and getting relief to Indians in distress. She built an Indian human capital abroad and the response was an outpouring of support for the Modi government from the non-resident Indian community.
Her last words on a public platform were to thank Modi for scrapping Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.
Her last tweet was: "Narendra Modi ji - Thank you Prime Minister. Thank you very much. I was waiting to see this day in my lifetime."
She was referring to the abrogation of Article 370, ending the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
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