A day after he assumed charge as the Minister of External Affairs, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar Saturday said he felt honoured to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor and senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj. In his first tweet, the foreign minister said, “Thank you all for the best wishes! Honoured to be given this responsibility. Proud to follow on the footsteps of Sushma Swaraj”.
Given Swaraj’s extensive use of social media for her outreach, as well as to coordinate with ministers and diplomats, it will be interesting to see how Jaishankar navigates the micro-blogging site.
My first tweet.
Thank you all for the best wishes!
Honoured to be given this responsibility.
Proud to follow on the footsteps of @SushmaSwaraj ji
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) June 1, 2019
Sixteen months after he retired and left the office of Foreign Secretary in South Block to lead a private life, Jaishankar returned on Friday to take charge of the Ministry of External Affairs. The significance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi turning to Jaishankar, after the exit of Sushma Swaraj, is not lost on anyone. He is the first former Foreign Secretary to become a Cabinet minister, that too for the prestigious Raisina Hill portfolio.
While K Natwar Singh, another career diplomat for 30 years, also became Foreign Minister two decades after quitting the Indian Foreign Service, he had joined the Congress whereas Jaishankar has not taken the political route and is a lateral entry, in letter and spirit.
Soon after taking charge around 4 pm on Friday, Jaishankar met Secretaries of the Ministry of External Affairs, including Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, before heading to the first meeting of the new Cabinet.
He is likely to be briefed next week by all heads of divisions, mainly the Joint Secretaries in charge of key territorial (like US, Pakistan, China etc) and functional (nuclear issues, UN affairs etc) matters.