Madhya Pradesh, Sushma Swaraj’s second home for over a decade

Former external affairs minister and the BJP veteran Sushma Swaraj, who died last night after cardiac arrest at Delhi’s AIIMS, had a special relation with Madhya Pradesh that lasted for more than 11 years.

Sushma Swaraj represented Vidisha in Lok Sabha twice from 2009 to 2019. But before contesting election from the seat, she was elected to Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh in the year 2008.

As a Rajya Sabha member, Sushma Swaraj chose to stay at the home of a BJP worker Jitendra Daga in Bhopal’s Gandhi Nagar for a year till she was elected to Lok Sabha in 2009. Later, she shifted to her official bungalow at Civil Lines in Bhopal.

“I learnt a lot from her in politics. We were highly impressed by her simplicity and down to earth approach. Her demise is a personal loss to me,” said Daga.

BJP insiders say Sushma Swaraj was willing to contest from Bhopal in 2009 but the then sitting MP from Bhopal and BJP veteran Kailash Joshi was too keen to contest again from his constituency. Like a disciplined soldier of her party, Sushma Swaraj settled for the neighbouring constituency Vidisha.

Interestingly, the Congress candidate from Vidisha in 2009 Rajkumar Patel couldn’t turn up in time at the office of returning officer for validation of his nomination papers and his candidature was cancelled.

The same election, Sushma Swaraj won by a margin of about 3.90 lakh votes and she broke her own record in 2014 when she defeated her opponent by a bigger margin of 4.10 lakh votes.

Sushma Swaraj made sure that she celebrated festival of Rang Panchami in Bhopal but in the last few years she stopped coming to the city due to health reasons.

It was at Indore in November last year when she first announced not to contest the next election due to her health.

“She was a great leader and parliamentarian, excellent orator, devoted and dedicated party worker and above all, a great human being,” Senior BJP leader Govind Maloo said.

BJP leader from Vidisha, Ram Raghuvanshi, who has been Sushma Swaraj’s representative in the Lok Sabha constituency, said, “Vidisha’s development was possible because of her efforts only. Today, Vidisha has a medical college, an auditorium, a passport office, four flyovers. A locomotive engine factory, whose foundation stone was laid by her in 2015, will start functioning anytime now.”

She last visited Vidisha at the time of filing of nomination papers by the incumbent MP Ramakant Bhargava in May this year. Addressing a gathering, she had said though she would not be an MP from Vidisha but anymore she would continue to consider Vidisha as her home.