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India's New Foreign Minister Swaraj idolizes Golda Meir

By Vijeta Uniyal
5/27/2014, 10:05 PM

With appointment of Senior BJP politician Sushma Swaraj as India’s new Foreign Minister, the incoming Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has shown an excellent sense of judgment.

There had been a lot of media hype lately about supposed differences between the two. By opting for Sushma Swaraj for such an import cabinet positon, Prime Minister Modi has put the media speculations to rest.

Sushma Swaraj as India’s next Minister of External Affairs is good news for advocates of stronger Israel-India relations. Besides holding several key political and legislative offices, she also chaired the India-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group.

Sushma Swaraj is the first women to hold the office of Foreign Minister in India. A known support of Israel, she is a firebrand leader who idolizes Israel’s Iron Lady Golda Meir.

Sushma Swaraj ‘gets it’ when it comes to Israel – something one can not say for most politicians in high echelons of international politics. She understands that Israel takes a lot of flak in the region and beyond for her association with US policies. As Sushma Swaraj puts it, “The Left parties (in India) are basically anti-US and therefore all those countries which are seen as allies of Washington are disliked by them.” (Jerusalem/2008)

Sushma Swaraj is professionally a lawyer, who in 70s charted her career path at the Supreme Court of India – even today a male dominated turf.

She is a feminist in the best sense of the word and no easy pushover. When a senior Indian Army General commented that there was no place for women recruits in the Indian Army, Swaraj retorted that the Army had no place for the General.

In personal meetings I have found her very forthright, gracious and down to earth – a quality rare for a politician with her ability and standing.

My first opportunity of meeting Sushma Swaraj was in 1998, during my college days, she was running for the State Assembly in Delhi from my district. She won the seat by huge margin and subsequently had a brief stint as the Chief Minister of the Delhi State.

In Sushma Swaraj Israel has a brilliant partner, not only in issues of bilateral interest, but also in arena of international politics. The India-Israel bilateral relations that grew in the last decade under the Congress Party led government can hope to flourish under her stewardship as India’s Foreign Minister.