Arun Jaitley – A Nationalist And A Liberal Who Helped In Mainstreaming Of BJP
The passing away of Arun Jaitley marks an end in the history of modern BJP
Photo Credit : PTI
A former Finance Minister, a former Law Minister, ex BJP general secretary, ex Leader if Opposition in Rajya Sabha, top-notch lawyer, cricket administrator, Jaitley donned many hats with aplomb.
Jaitley had a huge role in “mainstreaming” of the BJP. The BJP that we know today is the main pivot of Indian politics, and Jaitley, through his consummate communications skills and articulation, made sure that the nationalist party was acceptable in the mainstream media – once dominated by the “Liberal-Left”.
He was someone who was always entrusted with election management projects, and he turned it into an art. An ultimate backroom strategist, and a statesman who had friends across the political spectrum, Jaitley will also be remembered as someone who gave rise to a liberal school in the mainstream BJP – be it the LGBT rights, or any contentious issues. But he always remained a nationalist to the core. His last tweet was a celebratory one on the scrapping of Article 370.
As Finance Minister, his role in the GST rollout will always be remembered. It, of course, helped, that he had friends in Opposition parties, and hence it was easier to bring them on board. Another achievement of the Narendra Modi government was that of expanding the Jan Dhan accounts and Jaitley executed it with his trademark finesse.
Come to think of it, the passing away of Ananthakumar, Sushma Swaraj, and Arun Jaitley, in such a short span of time, leaves a huge void in national politics. All of them had been groomed by L K Advani to take the BJP to newer heights, and they were often referred to as “second-generation BJP leaders”.
Today, if you see, a whole new generation of young BJP spokespersons holding forth on party issues and other matters, the credit must go to Jaitley – for he single-handedly created a culture of consummate communicators. He always believed that a mainstream political leader must have good persuasive skills.
Jaitley began as an ABVP activist in the SRCC and was elected the DUSU chief. That he didn’t often contest Lok Sabha elections was held against him. So, he decided to fight the Amritsar seat – although he didn’t succeed.
Another fact that critics often held against him was that he “unduly influenced the media”. He was also called as the “Bureau Chief”! But the fact is that reporters lined up in his room for sessions on political insights and other “gup shup”.
Like many others, he was always very kind to this reporter. He would surprise this reporter by “Aaj teri report acchi thi”!
But he was a raconteur par excellence. He once narrated to a small group, that included this reporter, on how Mukesh Ambani would be harangued by pesky tele-marketers with “loan calls”!
When the BJP witnessed a generational shift from the Adavni era to the Modi-Shah era, Jaitley was the common link.
Jaitley was Adavni’s blue-eyed boy. He was a trusted friend in need to Narendra Modi and Amit Shah as well. This reporter was witness to Shah lining up with a temporary pass to go to Jaitley’s Leader of Opposition chamber in Parliament, when he was not allowed to enter Gujarat, following propaganda by the Congress.
In the Modi Cabinet of 2014 Jaitley remained the de facto number two by the sheer influence he wielded on the policy space.
He personally groomed a number of BJP leaders, and his choice of incumbents for various ministries was respected by PM Modi and Amit Shah as well.
Arun Jaitley was a giant. He will be fondly remembered by his followers, adversaries, and all those who had an opportunity to meet him.