Sushma Swaraj not to contest 2019 Lok Sabha poll

PTI Indore | Updated on November 20, 2018 Published on November 20, 2018

File Photo of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.   -  PTI

Cites health reasons

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday announced that she will not contest the next Lok Sabha general elections due to health reasons. The 66-year-old leader, who is serving her fourth term in the House and has long been her party’s most prominent woman face, said BJP will take a final call on the issue.

Swaraj told reporters at Indore that after her kidney transplant operation in December 2016, doctors had advised her to stay away from dust, which has stopped her from attending programmes in open places. “Although my party has the right to decide my candidature, due to health reasons, I have decided that I will not contest the next Lok Sabha elections,” Swaraj said.

Swaraj, second term MP from Vidisha Lok Sabha seat in Madhya Pradesh, said that despite holding important posts of Leader of Opposition and Minister of External Affairs, she regularly visited all the eight assembly segments in her constituency. “In December 2016, after the kidney transplant, doctors advised me to stay away from dust and that is why I have been unable to take part in poll meetings for the last one year,” she said.

She said she could not participate in programmes being organised at open places due to health reasons and could only take part in such events in closed-door auditoria. “I have also told my leadership that I have to stay away from dust due to health reasons. I can go to foreign countries, but following the advice of the doctors to stay away from dust I am unable to visit Vidisha as mostly it comprises of rural areas only,” she said.

“I have toured my constituency maximum number of times as a member of the Lok Sabha among the MPs from Madhya Pradesh. Though I have not visited my seat for the last two years, I fulfilled all the promises I have made to the people of Vidisha sitting in Delhi,” she said.

Eight districts of Madhya Pradesh including Vidisha were listed among the most backward districts in the country by the NITI Aayog in its report released earlier this year. In April, Swaraj had said her constituency was backward due to the poor monitoring of welfare schemes.

Last year, posters showing Swaraj as ‘missing’ had popped up in the constituency. “Gumshuda Saansad Ki Talash” (in search of a missing MP), they read. The posters, which also listed problems in her constituency, once represented by late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, went viral in the social media. Swaraj’s husband Swaraj Kaushal posted “thank you” on Twitter and said even Milkha Singh stopped running.

A leader who could sway crowds by her oratory in Hindi, Swaraj is among the few top politicians capable of speaking in English with equal ease. She was the youngest cabinet minister at 25 when she joined the Haryana government in 1977 and the first woman chief minister of Delhi.

She is also the first woman external affairs minister of India. Indira Gandhi had held the portfolio while she was the prime minister. Swaraj has also served in the Rajya Sabha for three terms and was a member of the Haryana Assembly- the state she comes from - twice.

She started her political life with Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the RSS’ student wing, and later joined the BJP. She was the Information and Broadcasting Minister in the 13-day Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1996 and got the Cabinet portfolio again after he led the BJP to power in 1998.

Swaraj’s most notable political battle was the one against the then Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Bellary in 1999 Lok Sabha polls. She was her party’s nationalist woman counter to Gandhi, often attacked by the BJP for her Italian origins.

Swaraj’s intensive campaign, during which she gained proficiency in Kannada, won her innumerable local hearts with her speeches in their language, but Gandhi, who was fighting her first Lok Sabha election in a region then seen as her party’s pocket borough, got better of her. Swaraj fell short of victory but grew in stature.

Long seen as a protege of veteran BJP leader L K Advani, she also was the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha between 2009-14.

Published on November 20, 2018

A letter from the Editor

Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.