Sushma Swaraj circa 1999: The art of winning Kannadigas’ hearts

Memories from the past. Sushmaji contesting against Sonia Gandhi in Bellary, Karnataka in 1999. Vajpayee was at his highest ever popularity. Swaraj speaks in ಅಚ್ಚ ಶುದ್ಧ ಕನ್ನಡ (Achcha Shuddha Kannada) that she’s learned in just 2 weeks after the announcement of her candidature. Remarkably, this was without even a written script in front of a lakh-strong crowd! The Bellary crowd contrasted her dedicated efforts to speak in Kannada impromptu with her opponent’s. The atmosphere is so electric.

Within just two weeks of campaigning, she secured about 3+ lakh votes from Bellary that was a Congress stronghold since Independence. BJP was not even existent in the district before Sushma set her foot here.

2014 is the first time since 1999 that BJP supporters are so enthusiastic about the prospects of the party. Today, Sushmaji is going to the people for a record 11th time from Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh.

While we are on the topic of Sushmaji, my mind travels back even further to 1996 when she delivered what’s regarded as one of the finest-ever speeches in Parliament by an opposition leader. This was when Vajpayee government fell after 13 days, and Deve Gowda became PM with the support of Congress, a party that was thoroughly rejected by people of India just a month before.

Sushmaji, you’re inspiration and a worthy example to millions of women (and men) in our country. Go Sushmaji!

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