People in Haryana are in a state of shock at the demise of their illustrious daughter, Sushma Swaraj, with the residents of Ambala Cantonment, where the former external affairs minister spent her childhood days, recalling her affectionate and caring nature.

The veteran leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who brought a rare empathy and a human approach to India’s foreign diplomacy, passed away on Tuesday night following a massive cardiac arrest. She was 67.

Swaraj was a member of the Haryana legislative assembly from 1977-82 and 1987-90 during the days of the then state governments headed by Chaudhary Devi Lal.

Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij, who represents the Ambala Cantonment Assembly constituency, described Swaraj as a leader with rare qualities and said he was deeply saddened by her death.

He recalled that Swaraj was elected as an MLA for the first time at a young age of 25 and later, went on to become the education minister of Haryana.

“In 1977, it so happened that the ticket was first given to Som Prakash Chopra, who was jailed during Emergency. But for some reasons, when he did not enter the fray, the ticket was given to Sushmaji, who won, and the Janata Party government was formed,” Vij said.

In 1990, Swaraj moved to the Rajya Sabha, Vij, who has been representing the Ambala Cantonment constituency since then, said.