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Posted at: Aug 24, 2019, 12:37 PM; last updated: Aug 25, 2019, 6:38 AM (IST)

Modi govt's go-to man in crisis, Arun Jaitley passes away at 66

Was admitted to AIIMS on August 9
Modi govt's go-to man in crisis, Arun Jaitley passes away at 66
Former finance minister Arun Jaitley. — Sketch: Sandeep Joshi

Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 24

Former finance minister Arun Jaitley, who was admitted to the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, passed away on Saturday following cardiac complications.

Jaitley, 66, had been undergoing treatment at the hospital for several weeks, after he was rushed to the AIIMS on August 9 following breathlessness and restlessness. The cremation will be on Sunday afternoon at the Nigambodh Ghat.



Among the top leaders responsible for the emergence of the BJP at the national level, he was one of the pillars, and chief troubleshooter of the saffron party and the Narendra Modi government in recent times.

With the party since student days as an ABVP activist, Jaitley held the portfolios of Finance, Defence, Corporate Affairs, I&B among many others. Jaitley also spearheaded government policies in the Rajya Sabha as Leader of the Opposition, even though the numbers were not with the Modi government during the first tenure.

A brilliant lawyer with friends across party lines, his speeches in Parliament were textbook cases of logic and finesse. He was among the BJP leaders available to the media freely, interacting with journalists generally after lunchtime when Parliament was in session.

A  legal eagle, a sharp mind, a perfect Parliamentarian, a former minister of Defence, Finance, I&B, Corporate Affairs, Jaitley was that and much more.

Laced with humour and references to cricket, the sessions with "guruji" as he was referred to by some journalists, were always something to look forward to.  At the end, one could always get an answer to a question, provided it was relevant.

A great foodie, he was known to speak his mind freely, responding to all media queries at times when the majority of ministers tried to keep away. Party insiders say he was a bridge-builder, representative of the old-world politics in the mould of colleague Sushma Swaraj, who passed away a few days back, also at a relatively young age.

Whenever journalists wanted to know the behind-the-scenes story, he was the best bet. In fact, not just as a troubleshooter for the government, he was also the man who stood behind Narendra Modi when he was struggling before 2014, supporting him morally and legally. He was known to be the legal brain behind Modi's defence in the Gujarat riot cases.

Even though Jaitley was not much of a success politically -- he lost to Captain Amarinder Singh when he contested 2014 from Amritsar -- his political and legal acumen made him an indispensable member of the saffron party.

Condolences are pouring in from all sides for the top BJP leader, known to be among those closest to Modi. Almost till his last, he had been blogging in favour of his government's policy decisions.

One of his last political tweets was on the Congress, which he called a ‘headless chicken’, after the abrogation of Article 370. “The Congress is further consolidating its alienation from the people of India. The New India has changed. Only the Congress does not realise this. The Congress leadership is determined to succeed in its race to the bottom,’ he wrote on his twitter handle.

His last tweet was on August 7, when he condoled the death of Sushma Swaraj, and later congratulated people on Tulsidas Jayanti.

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