Agartala: Following the sudden demise of former foreign minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi on Tuesday evening, Tripura West MP Pratima Bhowmik shared her memories with the departed leader during her visit to the state in 2008 for the first and, unfortunately, the last time ever.
Speaking with EastMojo, Bhowmik said, “Sushma Swaraj visited Agartala in 2008 during the [then] ongoing nationwide protest against the UPA government for raising the prices of important commodities. She was here to lead the protest rally along with Kiran Maheshwari, the then BJP Mahila Morcha national president.”
She came on an early morning flight and left the same evening. She addressed a press conference at Agartala Rajarshi Hotel, where she said if the UPA government returns than the nation will further suffer, Bhowmik said.
It was also the first time when the CPI(M) government led by then chief minister Manik Sarkar used water cannons on BJP party workers during the protest rally. CPI(M) was also the alliance partner in the UPA-1 government, Bhowmik added.
Bhowmik, who now represents the Tripura West Parliamentary constituency, was then the state Mahila Morcha president and it is believed that her selection in the recent Lok Sabha as BJP candidate was also recommended by Sushma Swaraj.
Chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb also shared close ties with Swaraj since he was working in Delhi during his earlier days in the 1990s.
Deb took to Facebook and wrote, “Sushma ji’s contribution to the Nation and the Party will always be remembered. She has worked tirelessly as EAM [external affairs minister] in her tenure. Her spirit and commitment towards serving people was unparalleled. With her sudden demise a glorious chapter in Indian politics comes to an end. I offer my heartfelt tributes to her and extend my condolences to her family, followers in this unfortunate hour of grief.”
The BJP veteran, who suffered a massive heart attack on Tuesday evening, passed away at 67. She was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi after her health deteriorated. She was taken to the hospital after she complained of restlessness around 9 pm.
Swaraj served as the minister of external affairs from May 26, 2014 to May 30, 2019; she was the second woman to hold the office, after Indira Gandhi. She was elected seven times as an MP and three times as an MLA. At the age of 25 in 1977, she became the youngest cabinet minister of Haryana. She also served as the fifth chief minister of Delhi from October 13, 1998 to December 3, 1998.