Bengaluru: The deceased senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj shared a unique bond with Ballari, a mining town in Karnataka. She had contested the Lok Sabha elections from Ballari in the year 1999 against Sonia Gandhi, the chairperson of United Progressive Alliance (UPA). Though she went on to lose, her bonding with Ballari remained firm. 

Sushma Swaraj was also close to the Reddy brothers and Sriramulu, a senior BJP leader from Karnataka. As the news of her untimely death reached them, they literally choked. 

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Janardhan Reddy: She loved us in the same way as our biological mother. Even in our wildest dreams, we didn’t know she would die. I can’t digest the tragic news. Her humanity was no less than God’s. She was very broadminded. She was not cheating and deceitful. We can’t compare her with anyone else. We even cried as she got into a helicopter after she lost the 1999 elections. As we cried, she got down from the helicopter and pacified us. She always said she had a personal relationship with the city of Ballari. She even promised she would return to attend the festival every year and she stayed true to her words. She used to come home and play with our daughter, who also dressed up as Sushma Swaraj in a fancy dress competition. 

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Somashekar Reddy: We have lost our strength. She used to attend Varamahalakshmi festival every year. The whole of Ballari is in grief. In 1999, she had come to Ballari for filing her nominations. When we came to know she would come, we met her. She was very close to us. She was like a daughter to Ballari. She used to bless us all. We have lost a very good human being. 

Sriramulu: We are pained at the news of her death. We shared a mother-son relationship. I can’t even speak at this moment. I am so full of emotions. She gave me a lot of love. She had even declared that I am her foster son. She used to attend mass marriages. I used to meet her in Delhi. I am devastated at her loss.