Arun Jaitely – the quintessential BJP politician, backroom strategist, troubleshooter-in-chief, and above all the man who was instrumental in catapulting Narendra Modi to lead the BJP in the 2014 elections – passed away yesterday in AIIMs after battling illness.
He was the intellectual engine of the BJP and a mentor & guide to many of the cabinet ministers in today’s NDA government.
From being a Minister of State for Commerce & Disinvestment in the Vajpayee government to being the Law Minister in 2000 after the resignation of Ram Jethmalani, Jaitley was a man for all seasons. He, along with Sushma Swaraj, were the main pillars of the party in both houses of parliament and kept the party flag flying from 2004 to 2014 in the Rajya Sabha & the Lok Sabha.
He held the prestigious Finance & Defence portfolios in the Modi cabinet & at one time held both the portfolios together, the only man to do so, which was a testament to the confidence & trust that Modi reposed in him.
But the biggest legacy that Jaitley leaves behind is the implementation of GST and bringing everyone on board across the political spectrum.
Amongst his other achievements was paving the way for the installation of Yedyurappa government in Karnataka in 2008, thus enabling the party to get a foothold in the South. He also ensured the return of Nitish Kumar into the NDA fold. He was quick to rush to the aid of Modi when he was facing UPA’s legal witch-hunt after the Gujarat riots, and helped absolve Amit Shah when he was arrested for the encounter death of notorious criminal Sohrabuddin.
A legal luminary in his own right, he was appointed as the Additional Solicitor General by V P Singh in 1989 which was a testimony to his legal acumen & prowess.
From being the Delhi University students union President in 1974 & being jailed for 18 months during the dark days of emergency in 1975, to then joining the BJP in 1980, Jaitley held important positions under the Vajpayee government of 1999-2004, before being the main strategist who along with Rajnath Singh convinced the BJP & RSS top brass to let Modi spearhead the 2014 election campaign.
He had a knack of sensing the mood of the nation which he did meticulously in making the party choose Modi over Advani in 2014 & the rest, as they say, is history.
A cricket aficionado, he loved watching cricket at Lords, London during summers. As President of DDCA & Vice President of BCCI, he tried his best to improve cricket administration.
His charming smile & resonant persona cut across party lines & he had friends across political parties. An orator par excellence, his eloquence manifested itself in parliament debates where he held his own. His famous quote was ‘Parliament legislation is the art of the possible’. Jaitley got elected to the upper house in 2000 from Gujarat & was appointed BJP national spokesperson & General Secretary in 2002.
Jaitley was one of the most erudite, learned & versatile politicians to have treaded across the political canvass of this country. Jaitley had just two regrets according to his friend of 48 years, Vijay Kumar Malhotra – one was his inability to enter the Lok Sabha, and second was that he could not enjoy good health for long.
But inspite of his premature death, Arun Jaitley leaves behind a rich legacy of an astute statesman, master political strategist. exemplary parliamentarian & an eminent lawyer who held his own in the courtroom & parliament.
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