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Arun Jaitley: Master strategist who played many roles to perfection

Though Jaitley was never a mass leader despite his good oratory, he was invaluable for his party when it came to chalking out political strategies or managing public perception.

Updated: Aug 24, 2019, 05.44 PM IST
BJP would often bank on Jaitley to break deadlocks in Parliament by using his good relations with these parties.
Arun Jaitley played many parts to perfection during his long career. Unlike many dour, drab politicians who only know and talk politics, he had several talents and could hold forth on many issues. A highly successful lawyer who entered politics as a student leader in Delhi University, he was also a cricket administrator, a food connoisseur and a lover of old Hindi songs.

Though Jaitley was never a mass leader despite his good oratory, he was invaluable for his party when it came to chalking out political strategies or managing public perception.

Jaitley served in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, but he will be remembered for his stellar role in the first Narendra Modi government where he acted as the chief trouble shooter. The government banked on him to deal with the opposition, for guiding party spokespersons and leaders on issues, or in drafting statements and planning strategies.

Jaitley was a student of Sri Ram College of Commerce and became president of the Delhi University Student’s Union on an ABVP ticket. He would often recall how he managed to dodge the police during the Emergency when they came looking for him at his house. He later courted arrest in the campus.

Sushma Swaraj, who passed away earlier this month, and Jaitley were groomed by BJP veteran LK Advani. When BJP lost the second consecutive Lok Sabha election in 2009, Advani chose Jaitley as Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha to effectively take on the Manmohan Singh government. The lawyer-politician cornered the government on various scams from 2G spectrum allocation to Commonwealth Games to coal allocation. Swaraj was his counterpart in the Lok Sabha.

Interestingly, Jaitley showed some reluctance in becoming Leader of the Opposition when Advani discussed the matter with him. He had a roaring legal practice which he would have had to stop but more importantly he felt the role would not keep him engaged throughout the year. However, once he accepted the job, he tried to do full justice to it.

Their role in Parliament was instrumental in building the anti-incumbency against the UPA government in the 2014 general elections.

Jaitley was Modi’s right hand man in the first government while Amit Shah focused on strengthening the party. Jaitley’s familiarity with the Delhi political circle helped Modi take on his adversaries.

Arun Jaitley: BJP's 'scholar minister' passes away

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Arun Jaitley no more

24 Aug, 2019
A lawyer-turned-politician will be as staid an introduction for Arun Jaitley as a cricketer-turned-commentator for Sunil Gavaskar.A brilliant strategist and one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's most trusted colleagues, Jaitley was far more than an accomplished lawyer and many notches above his contemporaries in politics.The overcrowded grand stage of Delhi's intoxicating power elite has paused. It has lost one of its main protagonists, who passed away at AIIMS after prolonged illness on Saturday.

He was most at ease when it came to planning strategies or discussing legislation. Unlike most politicians, he would never engage in empty rhetoric and always came prepared for his speeches. At times, he would discuss beforehand what he planned to say inside Parliament.

On important days, all BJP spokespersons and panelists would gather at Jaitley’s office to be briefed about the stand they had to take on news channels later in the evening. His blog would serve as a guideline for the party on the points that had to be emphasised during debates.

Jaitley could reach out to most Opposition leaders, including those from the South. The party would bank on him to break deadlocks in Parliament by using his good relations with these parties.

However, Jaitley had his share of detractors and adversaries. He would be scathing in his attack on them during conversations and tried to put them in a spot politically.

Brought up in Delhi, Jaitley was well versed with its culture and food habits. He also had a good wit to match his high intelligence . His friends and colleagues will miss those evenings in the capital when he kept them entertained with his long conversations on cricket, cuisine and elegant shawls.

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