Arun Jaitley, the man behind Narendra Modi

Updated: Aug 26, 2019, 07:31 IST | Dharmendra Jore

From backing Modi's candidature to helping Amit Shah script history, Arun Jaitley has left another void in the party that saw its third big leader depart this year

Arun Jaitley, the man behind Narendra Modi
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) shows Indian Home Minister Amit Shah (R) praying beside the body of former Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley at BJP headquarters. Jaitley, a key ally of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, died in hospital in New Delhi. Pic/PTI

Dharmendra JoreThe late BJP minister Arun Jaitley wouldn't have wanted PM Narendra Modi to cut short his foreign visit in view of the eventuality back home since the PM was likely to discuss important issues such as Jammu and Kashmir among others with the international community during the G-7 summit. If he was alive today, the former finance minister and Modi's fire-fighter would have told the PM to rely on him and his ministerial colleagues if anything went wrong in the country in his absence. We can say that keeping the Jaitley-induced spirit alive, Modi has stayed back on the foreign tour despite his close friend's demise.

Jaitley has been part of the erstwhile Jan Sangh and its new avatar BJP throughout his life and has seen the party go through a series of failures, limited success and big victories in 2014 and 2019. As tributes for the leader came in, his friendship with Modi and his Chanakya-type role in shaping the former RSS pracharak's life into a formidable national figure was highlighted. Jaitley wasn't just a friend but a philosopher and guide to Modi, who became emotional while paying tribute to the departed leader.

"I cannot imagine that I am here in Bahrain while my dear friend Arun Jaitley is no more. Some days ago, we lost our former external affairs minister Behen Sushma Ji. Today my dear friend Arun went away," he said, adding that he was bound by both duty and emotions.

BJP president and now home minister Amit Shah completed the troika that led the government and party policies in the Modi regime. The stoic side of Shah was missing when he stood near the pyre that consigned Jaitley to flames on Sunday. Shah's political career wouldn't have flourished without Jaitley and Modi's undying support.

Building two powerhouses

The Jaitley-Modi bond dates back to decades. It became stronger after Modi was made Gurajat CM. BJP insiders say Jaitley was instrumental in making Modi's transfer from the organisation to the government possible. In the post-communal riots period, Jaitley — using all his political acumen and legal merit — stood strong behind Modi who faced several cases and probes. Jaitley represented a section of the BJP that wanted Modi to continue as the CM as others wanted him out. Modi stayed on, and a couple of years later, Jaitley co-scripted the idea of having Modi as BJP's PM candidate. Allies, like the Shiv Sena, wanted late Sushma Swaraj as the PM. Late Pramod Mahajan wasn't there any longer. Another person who could have staked claim to the post, LK Advani, had taken a backseat. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was bed-ridden. It was 2013. The rest is history.

Also Read: Ashok Gehlot, Vasundhara Raje condole Arun Jaitley's demise

Now enormously powerful, Shah had to spend time in Delhi during his externment from Gujarat. Jaitely had taken him under his wings in the time of crisis. Following his stupendous success as in-charge of 2014 Lok Sabha election in Uttar Pradesh, Shah was elevated as the party president. As promised, Shah delivered over 300 seats in 2019. Many BJP leaders were apprehensive of the president's projections and the opposition made prediction the butt of a joke. But there were a few at BJP's top posts who knew things were going right for achieving their target. Jaitley was one of them who knew the pulse of the voters. He couldn't take part in the campaign because of health issues but stayed connected with the party affairs contributing valuable insights and strategic inputs. His digital communication in the form of insightful blogs, quick reactions and brief statements laid the foundation for the party programme. His adversaries in the party, whosoever were left by then, couldn't do much but fall in line when the policy was laced with a Jaitley-Modi-Shah effect.

Also Read: Dalai Lama mourns Arun Jaitley's demise

Void in BJP

Former PM Vajpayee's passing away was the end of a glorious era. The untimely death of Pramod Mahajan at 56 had created a void that took some time to be filled. Mahajan and Jaitley were similar in many ways and yet poles apart. Both were good messengers, enjoyed friendship across parties and defended the BJP with a strong conviction. Mahajan was a mass leader, but Jaitley never became one. He instead became one of the architects of BJP's good fortune because he foresaw what Modi could do to the party when put in the driver's seat. Swaraj and Jaitley had prepared a fertile ground by virtue of their excellent performances as opposition leaders in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, respectively. Both countered illness bravely while discharging their duties in the first NDA government. The two refused to take up assignments in the second term, knowing that the ailments would win sooner or later. The BJP also recently lost former union ministers Manohar Parrikar and Ananth Kumar. Another mass leader the party lost was Gopinath Munde, a week after he was inducted as a union minister in the NDA I government. All these leaders came from different parts of the country helping build BJP from scratch.

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

Dharmendra Jore is political editor, mid-day. He tweets @dharmendrajore Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

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