Arun Jaitley's condolence message after Sushma Swaraj's demise assumes new significance

Updated: Aug 25, 2019, 21:11 IST | mid-day online correspondent

As tributes poured in for former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who died at AIIMS on Saturday after prolonged illness, his tweet condoling Sushma Swaraj's death on August 7 has assumed new significance.

Arun Jaitley with Sushma Swaraj in a file photo. Pic/AFP
Arun Jaitley with Sushma Swaraj in a file photo. Pic/AFP

New Delhi: Two of the most prolific leaders who made their mark in Narendra Modi's first government left for their heavenly abode in the month of August 2019. As tributes poured in for former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who died at AIIMS on August 24, 2019, after a prolonged illness, his condolence tweet for Sushma Swaraj after her death on August 7, 2019, has assumed new significance.

A long-standing cabinet colleague and a fellow member of the BJP Parliamentary Board, Sushma Swaraj's sudden death left Jaitley stunned. Just two days before he was admitted at AIIMS, Jaitley had tweeted: "Saddened, pained & broken on the demise of Sushmaji."

Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj who have been active and made their marks in the pre-Modi era made a smooth transition after Narendra Modi won a landslide victory in 2014. They comfortably fitted in Modi's working style and were soon considered to be the two best ministers in the Prime Minister's cabinet. The two BJP stalwarts shared a personal bond as well.

After the sudden news of Sushma Swaraj's demise, an ailing Jaitley tweeted the second last tweet of his life where he said, "She was one of the most outstanding politicians in the present era. She distinguished in all positions. She held senior positions with the party, NDA government and while in opposition. She leaves behind a void which is difficult to fill."

Ironically, Jaitley himself has left a void in the BJP that will be equally tough to fill, considering the finesse with which he could reach out to the Opposition. He was unwell for a long time. In May, Jaitley was admitted in AIIMS and had undergone a renal transplant on May 14, 2014. In September 2014, he underwent bariatric surgery.

Edited by mid-day online desk with inputs from IANS

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Arun Jaitley: Narendra Modi's 'precious diamond' and original Chanakya
  • 1/25

    Arun Jaitley, a politician and attorney was born on December 28, 1952 to Maharaj Kishen Jaitley and Ratan Prabha Jaitley. His father was a lawyer and his mother, a housewife. Jaitley's parents had shifted from undivided Punjab. He had two siblings. Arun Jaitley married Sangeeta, daughter of former Jammu and Kashmir finance minister Girdhari Lal Dogra, in 1982. He is survived by his wife and two children, Rohan and Sonali. Sonali married Jaiyesh Bakhshi. Both his children are lawyers. His niece Ridhi Dogra and nephew Akshay Dogra are television actors

  • 2/25

    Arun Jaitley studied at St Xavier's School (1957-69) and said that his days at school were the most memorable as they moulded his thoughts which later shaped his political vision. He later pursued B.Com. (Hons.) from Shri Ram College of Commerce in 1973 and Law from Delhi University in 1977

  • 3/25

    Before blossoming into a full-fledged politician, Arun Jaitley had established himself as a shining spark in legal circles. After the Emergency, he began practicing law and in 1980 challenged the move by Jagmohan, then Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, to demolish the Indian Express building, which brought him in close contact with Ramnath Goenka, Arun Shourie and Fali Nariman. This association brought him to the notice of V P Singh, who upon becoming the Prime Minister appointed Jaitley as additional solicitor general, one of the youngest ever to hold the post.

  • 4/25

    Arun Jaitley was Additional Solicitor General from 1989 - 90 when Bofors issue was at its peak and became a member of BJP national executive in 1991. Despite becoming one of the top lawyers in the country, politics seemed his natural calling. 

  • 5/25

    An accomplished lawyer and a cricket administrator, Arun Jaitley rose to prominence during Emergency in the late 1970s when he was detained for 19 months under MISA. He became the national convener of the Loktantrik Yuva Morcha and campaigned for Janata Party candidates in the 1977 Lok Sabha elections

  • 6/25

    Arun Jaitley joined ABVP, the student wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and was elected as president of the student union at the Delhi University in 1974. He later joined the BJP

  • 7/25

    As a consummate lawyer, he handled tricky political situations with ease, worked out winning electoral strategies and presented even the most complicated political, legal or business issue with clarity. A four-time member of Rajya Sabha, Jaitley was among the BJP leaders who sensed early that Narendra Modi had the potential to challenge the Congress' domination of national politics and backed him within the party and outside

  • 8/25

    When the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) first came to power in 1999, Jaitley was appointed minister by Vajpayee and over the years, handled law, information and broadcasting, disinvestment, shipping, and industry portfolios. The Vajpayee government, in which Arun Jaitley was the law minister, brought legislations to freeze the number of seats in parliament until 2026, impose penalties on members of parliament who defected from their parties and put a limit to the number of legislators who could be made ministers

  • 9/25

    Arun Jaitley grew close to Narendra Modi by helping him in surmounting legal challenges, which Modi, then the chief minister of Gujarat, faced in the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat riots. A consensus builder, he was regarded by some as Modi's original 'Chanakya', his chief trouble-shooter since 2002 when the Gujarat riots hung over the then chief minister like a dark cloud

  • 10/25

    Arun Jaitley served various ministries including Law, Justice, and Company Affairs and Minister of Commerce and Industry in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition government (1999-2004). Arun Jaitley became a member of Rajya Sabha in 2000 and re-elected in 2006, 2012 and 2018. He was appointed as a general secretary after NDA lost power in the 2004 elections.

  • 11/25

    With his multi-faceted experience and acumen, Arun Jaitley was the man for the Modi government in its first term from 2014 to 2019. Be it showcasing the government's achievements or defending controversial policies or launching a fierce attack on the Congress or framing the 2019 election as a contest between stability and chaos, few could have been more effective.

  • 12/25

    Arun Jaitley lost the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Amritsar but that did not prevent him from being appointed a union minister. He was given key portfolios of finance and corporate affairs. It was a measure of Narendra Modi's trust in him that he was also given charge of defence ministry twice. With his health conditions necessitating rest, Arun Jaitley was twice minister without portfolio in the Modi government and later resumed his work as Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister

     

  • 13/25

    As Finance Minister in the first tenure of the Modi government, Arun Jaitley oversaw implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST), a major tax reform that had huge electoral implications. The sensitive decision of demonetisation was also taken by the Modi government while he presided over the ministry.

  • 14/25

    To the nation, Arun Jaitley explained the global context of rising fuel prices, articulated a complex Rafale fighter jet deal in simple terms and steered through Parliament major economic legislations such as the nationwide Goods and Services Tax (GST) -- which had languished for nearly two decades. He was also the man who explained the government's position when a bill to ban the Muslim instant divorce practice known as 'triple talaq' was brought.

  • 15/25

    A moderate, Jaitley has friends across the political spectrum and is one of India's most articulate and influential leaders who brought civility to public discourse, irrespective of whether one agreed with his position or not.  While Prakash Javadekar once called him a "super strategist", Narendra Modi described him as a "precious diamond" at an election rally in Amritsar from where Jaitley contested in 2014. Still, Arun Jaitley retained his fondness for Amritsari chole and kulcha

  • 16/25

    Several ministers, such as Nirmala Sitharaman, Piyush Goyal and Dharmendra Pradhan, are believed to have been his proteges. All party spokespersons flocked to him for advice. As the quintessential insider in the capital's political arena, he was the darling of the media with whom he was so open that he was sometimes accused of being indiscreet and too candid for his own good

  • 17/25

    In 2006, Arun Jaitley became the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha and earned the respect of many Congressmen because of his clarity, quick thinking and a phenomenal memory

  • 18/25

    Arun Jaitley's stint in the Modi-1.0 government was affected by his frequent bouts of ill health that even led him to take a short sabbatical. In 2018 he took a three-month break to undergo a kidney transplant and this year he was forced to travel to the US for treatment, depriving him of the opportunity to present the sixth and final Budget of the Modi government's first term.

  • 19/25

    Arun Jaitley was one of BJP's most successful spokespersons with his dexterity in English and Hindi and a key face to reach out to the middle class. He articulated his points with sharpness and crispness and often with catchy phrases that were easy to turn into headlines. Urbane and multi-faceted, Arun Jaitley was key to BJP's reach out to the sections that read and speak English

  • 20/25

    An interesting conversationalist with seemingly endless of anecdotes, Arun Jaitley had an earthy sense of humour and a friendly demeanour and had wide connections with the media. Jaitley liked reading and held his own in the discussion on subjects as diverse as modern history, law, judiciary, economy, politics or cricket. He thrashed out issues with ease.

  • 21/25

    Arun Jaitley was thrice elected to Rajya Sabha from Gujarat and two of these terms came when Narendra Modi was chief minister of the state. After BJP-led government came to power, he was appointed Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha. He is learnt to have advised BJP chief Amit Shah in his legal cases

  • 22/25

    Arun Jaitley was a former president of Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) and a former Vice-President of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). He was also a member of Governing Council of Indian Premier League

  • 23/25

    From being the BJP government's key political strategist to managing the crucial finance portfolio, Jaitley wore many hats while pursuing his more material interests such as collecting expensive pens, watches and luxury cars.

  • 24/25

    A resident of Delhi and a lawyer closely associated with politics since his student days, Arun Jaitley was an insider to the city's power politics and knew people across professions and disciplines. He had friends across the political divide and leaders came to him in private for advice. 

  • 25/25

    Arun Jaitley did not contest the 2019 Lok Sabha election, because of his ill-health. In May 2019 Jaitley was admitted to AIIMS for treatment. He had undergone a renal transplant on May 14, 2018, at AIIMS with Railways Minister Piyush Goyal filling in for him in the finance ministry at that time. In September 2014, he underwent bariatric surgery to correct the weight he had gained because of a long-standing diabetic condition. On August 24, 2019, BJP stalwart and former finance minister Arun Jaitley died at AIIMS at 12.07 pm. He was 66.

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