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Posted at: Aug 25, 2019, 6:40 AM; last updated: Aug 25, 2019, 4:04 PM (IST)ARUN JAITLEY (1952-2019)

BJP loses its go-to man, an era ends

BJP loses its go-to man, an era ends
Legal eagle, sharp, intelligent, perfect parliamentarian, a man for all seasons, Jaitley was the perfect example of a politician from ‘Lutyens’ Delhi’ who enjoyed the confidence of PM Modi despite his obvious wariness for inhabitants of the particular ‘zone’

Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 24

One of the tallest BJP leaders, a man for all seasons for his party and who Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to as a “valued friend”, today lost his battle to health issues at the age of 66 — years replete with achievements in personal and public life while adhering to an ideology he became part of with the ABVP and later with the Bharatiya Janata Party.

A legal eagle, a sharp and intelligent mind, a perfect parliamentarian, the go-to man, minister of Defence , Finance, Information and Broadcasting, Corporate Affairs, Jaitley was that and more.

The suave Jaitley was a perfect example of a politician from “Lutyens’ Delhi” who enjoyed the confidence of PM Modi despite his obvious wariness for inhabitants of the particular “zone”.

In fact, PM Modi is believed to have learnt a few intricacies of New Delhi’s power ecosystem from this “SRCC Delhi boy”, with friends from Lutyens’ Delhi to Lajpat Nagar.

His friends were everywhere, in Opposition parties, in films, in cricket and in the media, where he was a favourite — a virtual lifesaver for journalists hungry for the tiniest bit of news and information at a time of an unofficial blackout in the “new BJP” under Modi and Amit Shah.

A brilliant strategist and communicator with a worldview on all issues, Jaitley was among the best spokespersons in the BJP. His excellent command over the language and issues made him the most sought after leader in the party.

One was always able to get something out if one sat through his “debriefing session” (‘darbar’, as it was called), as he happily narrated anecdotes and stories totally unrelated to the issue one was seeking answers to. Laced with humour, gossip and references to cricket, food and films, the ‘darbar’ of Guruji (a term fondly coined by journalists) never disappointed.

He talked with the same ease with proprietors, senior editors and lower-down-the-line reporters. It was said that if a poll among journalists is held, Jaitley would be the top choice for the post of Prime Minister.

The avid foodie’s ‘gossip’ sessions also landed him on the wrong side of some party colleagues, who suspected him to be “source” of media commentaries on BJP’s internal matters.

At the same time, he was among the few in the BJP to whom PM Modi turned to for advice. As someone who stood behind Modi when he was politically struggling, supporting him both morally and legally and later backing his ascent at the national level, Jaitley was among those who could speak his mind, inside and outside.

Interestingly, though he rose to become one of the most important leaders in the BJP, Jaitley was not much of a success so far as electoral politics goes. The senior BJP leader began his political career at DUSU, perhaps the only election he really won unlike political contemporaries like Sushma Swaraj.

Jaitley had lost to Capt Amarinder Singh when he contested from Amritsar in 2014. However, there are also very few in the BJP who could match his level of political acumen. Unlike many senior leaders who had to struggle to adjust after PM Modi swept the party’s political canvass, Jaitley continued to occupy a prime place in the hierarchy.

An avid blogger till the end, one of his last political tweets was a commentary on the Congress. “The New India has changed. Only the Congress does not realise this. The Congress leadership is determined to succeed in its race to the bottom,” he wrote on August 6 in a series of tweets following abrogation of Article 370.

Starting as a junior minister, he rose to the Cabinet level in the regime of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Then, as Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, he kept up sharp attacks against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh-led UPA.

As a virtual number two in the Cabinet headed by PM Modi in 2014, he shuffled between the North and South blocks.

During the 2019 elections, he stayed away due to health reasons but continued to speak for the government and slam the Opposition via social media.

But despite ideological differences, he had friends on all sides. As the Leader of the House at a time when the ruling BJP was struggling with numbers, his personal equations with senior Opposition leaders helped the government cross several difficult issues in the Rajya Sabha.

With the passing away of Jaitley, an era of BJP politics when things used to be different has come to an end. Destiny, it is said, is laced with strange coincidences. The BJP also lost Sushma Swaraj this month.


‘Left a void in intellectual ecosystem’

Arun Jaitley’s death leaves a huge void in our public life and the intellectual ecosystem. A brilliant lawyer, a seasoned parliamentarian, and a distinguished minister, he contributed immensely to nation-building. Ram Nath Kovind, President

‘Best minister i had in my entire career’

He was the best minister I had in my entire career. He was not a politician but a true statesman. I am privy to his statesmanship in making the GST a reality. But for him, the GST would not have been implemented in such a short period of time. Hasmukh Adhia, former Finance Secretary

‘He was appreciated across all parties’

Outstanding lawmaker & brilliant lawyer, appreciated across parties. His contribution will be remembered. Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal CM

‘Leader known for governance skills ’

Jaitley’s untimely demise is a huge loss to the nation. A legal luminary and an experienced political leader known for his governance skills will be missed by the country. Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi CM

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