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'Sushma transformed MEA, oriented it to people's call'

August 13, 2019 20:42 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday that Sushma Swaraj as external affairs minister transformed her ministry from being bound to protocol to one oriented to "people's call" and recalled she had urged him to deliver his first United Nations speech from a prepared text and not speak impromptu.

IMAGE: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh pays tribute to  Sushma Swaraj during a prayer meeting for her. Photograph: Kamal Kishore/PTI Photo

Joined by leaders from all major parties, Modi paid tributes to the Bharatiya Janata Party stalwart, who died last week, at a condolence meeting.

 

The prime minister said he learnt a lot from her and then spoke about his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in 2014, months after he had assumed the office for the first time.

After she received him, he suggested that they sit together as he had to deliver his speech the next day, Modi said.

Swaraj enquired where his speech was and he said he never writes his speeches as he finds it difficult.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised Sushma at the condolence meet, saying she transformed the ministry of external affairs. Photograph: Kamal Kishore/PTI Photo

"She said, 'aisa nahi hota hai bhai' (It doesn't work like this brother). 'You have to speak about India to the world. You cannot speak as you wish'. I was prime minister and she was my colleague minister taking care of the external affairs ministry..." Modi said.

The prime minister said he had undertaken a long travel and was also on fast due to 'navratra' but she insisted he share his thoughts.

The ministry prepared a draft speech for him, he said.

IMAGE: Bansuri Swaraj, daughter of Sushma Swaraj, pays tribute to her late mother during a condolence meeting. Photograph: Kamal Kishore/PTI Photo

"It was her request... One may be a fine orator but there are some forums which have their own traditions. This was the first lesson Sushma ji had taught me," he said, adding she had the courage to speak what she believed to be right.

Referring to Swaraj's prompt response to Indians facing problems abroad or related to the ministry, he said she transformed the ministry.

It used to be bound to protocol but she transformed it and made it oriented to people's call, he said.

IMAGE: Singer Anuradha Paudwal performs during a condolence meeting of former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj. Photograph: Kamal Kishore/PTI Photo

BJP leaders, including Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and party's working president J P Nadda, besides Anand Sharma of the Congress, Dinesh Trivedi of the Trinamool Congress, Pinaki Misra of the Biju Janata Dal, Lok Janshakti Party's Ram Vilas Paswan, Shiv Sena's Arvind Sawant and opposition leader Sharad Yadav were among others who spoke at the condolence meeting.

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