Vocal Hindutva spokesperson
For Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Sushma Swaraj, it has been a long haul from Ambala cantonment, where she was born
after her parents had moved there from Lahore in the midst of
the bloodbath of 1947.
After a spell as a lawyer in the Supreme Court in the early 1970s, Sushma was swept into politics during the Emergency.
In 1977, she was elected to the Haryana assembly from Ambala
cantonment on the Janata Party ticket. She was re-elected from the same constituency in 1987 on a Bharatiya Janata Party ticket.
During her tenure as education minister in the state, she opened a string of schools for girls in some of the remote areas of Haryana.
Election to the Rajya Sabha in April 1990 followed a brief
period of party politics.
In 1996, she was elected to the Lok Sabha from the South Delhi
constituency with a record margin of 114,000 votes and was among the 11 Cabinet ministers inducted into the 13-day Atal Bihari Vajpayee ministry.
Swaraj is the BJP's first woman general secretary and
spokesperson of any national party.
Combatting the charge that the BJP is communal, the 46-year-old leader has said, ''The parties, which have been exploiting the minorities and other vulnerable sections of the populace as vote banks for power and political manipulations, have no right to question the BJP's secular credentials. The BJP stands for unity and integrity of the nation within the broad frame of catholicity in thought and perception in tune with the civilisational contours of the country.''
She was equally vocal in shrugging off charges that she was an outsider who was trying to retain South Delhi Lok Sabha seat despite her non-performance.
''So Sonia Gandhi from Italy is an inside person for the Congress
people,'' she said. ''But Sushma Swaraj, who has been staying in Delhi for many years, has become an outsider today.''
She, her lawyer husband Swaraj Kaushal -- a former governor of Mizoram -- and their daughter live in south Delhi's Tara apartments.
Tell us what you think of this report