She became the Chief Minister of Delhi a few months after we landed here in 1997 and in 1999 while working with Clips, the one-stop office shop, I sold a study table to her for which payment was made promptly. She put an end to diesel/kerosene/whatever autos and the reckless Blue line buses and brought in CNG for public transport. It was under her rule that Delhi got its world class metro. Under her watch, Delhi looked like her living room – beautiful, welcoming and well kept. While I don’t like the CONgress party I loved Sheila Dikshit and the 15 years that she was Delhi’s CM were the best years for Delhi. Unfortunately it was marred right in the end by the Nirbhaya case :(. Mrs. Dikshit managed to get along with everyone, despite strong differences and we never heard of high-handed behaviour from her. She was graceful, a good administrator and genuinely loved Delhi. I miss her !!
On July 20th, she was the first one to go but the void she left behind will not be filled for a long time …. Every time we drive into Delhi and its often, I think of Sheila Dikshit because her and my beloved Delhi today looks like a garbage dump, graceless and unkempt, exactly like its CM. Farewell Mrs. Dikshit. May someone in your mould become the CM soon and may Delhi once again become classy and well kept.
I never noticed Sushma Swaraj till she became the Minister of External Affairs in 2014… I knew she spoke really well, and I have seen some of her earlier speeches, but somehow she didn’t register much in my mind except certain snippets of her political life – the fact that she could speak in Kannada, that worrisome connection to the Bellary brothers, that she was Mr. Vajpayee and Mr. Advani’s favourite, and that she wasn’t all that supportive of Mr. Modi as the PM since she wanted to be the PM herself. Then India’s third independence struggle paid off and Mr. Modi was sworn in as the PM in 2014. Sushma Swaraj became the MEA… and boy, did she take off !!!! I never felt as safe in a foreign country as when she was at the helm of affairs. Our embassies were suddenly visible, getting a passport became a simple affair without any bribes to the policeman and the rescue operations in Yemen was appreciated worldwide with other countries asking for India’s help in rescuing their citizens. Sushma Swaraj was legitimately a super star minister.
Just hours before she breathed her last on Aug 6th, she tweeted about the abolishment of Article 370 and thanked the PM for helping her realise her dream of J&K truly becoming a part of India.
When she passed away, I felt a family member had passed away – that was her impact ! I couldn’t write an obituary because it took time to sink in. It was too sudden. Aug 6th also is connected to a very personal loss – Appa had his cerebral haemorrhage on that day in 2008 and I had spoken to him last on that day. Om Shanti and am sure, your favourite Sri Krishna welcomed you in vaikunth and you lit up that place too like you lit up our country :).
I am no fan of the person who passed away 15 days after Sushma Swaraj on Aug 24th but he played a very important role in India’s politics – Mr. Arun Jaitley. Mr. Jaitley was a fantastic orator, a genius lawyer and a very smart politician. I wasn’t a fan because I didn’t appreciate his attitude towards the armed forces and the way the OROP was dealt with. I wasn’t a fan because of his close friendship with P. Chidambaram, the man responsible for coining the term “Hindu Terror” and other unspeakable anti-national activities. But the man had many things to his credit – his ability to work with the opposition leaders, his brilliant rebuttals in the parliament and his huge support to Mr. Modi in navigating the Lutyens cesspool during his first stint as PM. Om Shanti Mr. Jaitley – Karma is the universal judge and may you be judged positively for your contributions to our great nation.
The one to bring up the rear in this procession of impactful leaders passing on is the oldest by age and the most combative criminal lawyer that we have seen in our country, Mr. Ram Jethmalani. I heard of him first when he took on the defense of Smt. Indira Gandhi’s assassins and then again the defense of those accused of helping the assassination of her son Rajiv Gandhi. Some of the cases that he took up rankled in my mind – for e.g defending Manu Sharma in the Jessica Lal case (thankfully he lost), Kanimozhi in the 2G case and getting a stay for Jagan Reddy in C.B.I’s probe into money laundering in his companies. I understand that everyone has a right to be defended in court, but cold blooded murderers and confirmed corrupt politicians do not need a legal luminary defending them … just like Salman Khan getting Mr. Salve to help him get bail and roam free after allegedly mowing down some street dwellers in a drunken driving accident is unacceptable to me. Anyway, Mr. Ram Jethmalani passed away on Sept 8th at the age of 95 … and am sure, he vociferously defended his actions in the court of God/Karma and won. Om Shanti.
So Q3 of 2019, July, Aug and September has been a quarter when four well known public figures passed away and with them an era ended ….. graceful politics, the ability to be friends with adversaries and the super dedication to one’s profession. Two of the four lived a full life and two left too soon, but time is relative and subjective. They all left after their purpose was fulfilled in this life. May their next lives be as stellar and fulfilling !! Om Shanti. Om Shanti. Om Shanti.