Arun Jaitley, the ‘Chief’ among the second generation BJP leaders, is no more
Former finance minister and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley passed away at the age of 66 on Saturday
Lawyer, politician and a strategist par excellence, Arun Jaitley (66) passed away in All India Institute of Medical Sciences on Saturday. He was undergoing treatment in the hospital since August 9 this year.
In his political career spanning four decades, he served as central minister, Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House and an important tactician for the growth of right wing politics and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Born and raised in Delhi, Jaitley’s father Maharaj Kishen Jaitley was a lawyer. Jaitley completed his bachelor’s degree in commerce from Shri Ram College of Commerce and received the law degree in 1977 from the Campus Law Centre of Delhi University. His stint in student politics saw his active participation in the anti-emergency agitation soon after he was elected as the University Students Union president in 1974. His work as a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the RSS, gave him a platform to rise in the political sphere. Jaitley was in detention during the emergency in 1975 for 19 months. In 1980, he was among the founding members of the BJP.
With the Jan Sangh merging itself into the newly formed Janata Party, in 1977, Arun Jaitley became the national convener of the Loktantrik Yuva Morcha, the youth wing which rallied against Congress rule under Jai Prakash Narayan’s leadership.
Jaitley’s career as a politician and a lawyer progressed simultaneously and he served as additional solicitor general in the V P Singh-led government (1989–90). He played a pivotal role in the legal sharpening of the government stand on investigations into the alleged Bofors scandal involving former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
In 1991, Jaitley was included in the BJP’s national executive, the top decision-making body of the party. Prior to the 1999 parliamentary elections, he was appointed as the party’s spokesperson.
Jaitley served in a variety of ministerial posts in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition for six years till 2004. His portfolios included Minister of Law, Justice, Company Affairs and Minister of Commerce and Industry. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha in the year 2000 from Gujarat and re-elected in 2006 and 2012.
After the NDA lost power in the 2004 elections, Jaitley was appointed as the BJP’s general secretary. In 2009, he was chosen as the Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House. He will also be remembered for his vital role as the party’s campaign manager in several state elections over the years. He unsuccessfully ran for a Lok Sabha seat from Punjab in 2014.
However, despite his loss in Parliamentary elections, after BJP’s overwhelming win in the year 2014 elections, Jaitley was given responsibility for three important portfolios in Prime Minister Modi’s cabinet: defense, finance, and corporate affairs. He also switched his role in the Rajya Sabha from Leader of the Opposition to Leader of the House. After the 2019 victory, he wrote to Prime Minister Modi to leave him out of ministerial responsibilities due to his health condition.