August has been a cruel month for the BJP. On August 6, fomer External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj passed away. And soon tragically after just three weeks former finance Minister Arun Jaitley passed away. Swaraj was 67 and Jaitley was 66. The twin deaths has hit the BJP hard . And the void they will find very hard to fill in the year’s ahead.
When the BJP under the duo of late Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani during the NDA era was making inroads and positioning itself as the party of governance replacing the Congress , the suave, articulate Arun Jaitley emerged to become the party’s face in various news channels (as a BJP spokesperson who would soon become minister in the Vajpayee government had made his mark).
And he rose quickly to become the face of the BJP in Lutyen’s Delhi . An accomplished lawyer, Jaitley managed to woo the upper urban middle class with his excellent communication skills and articulation of party’s views. He passionately backed the party’s ideology .
In- fact it was Jaitley’s chemistry in the capital’s power corridors that helped Narendra Modi settle down as Prime Minister in 2014 as he moved from Gujarat to Delhi .
He was the backbone of the Modi government holding portfolios of Defence and Finance till his health gave way. He was the quintessential voice of the government and spearheaded the defence of the government’s policies on host of issues from the onslaught of the opposition be it – GST, Demonetization, Triple Talaq, Ayodhya, Rafale Controversy , Article 370 Surgical strikes, Balakot air strikes . And he did it well.
Any major government briefing after cabinet meet was addressed to the media by Arun Jaitley. He was the government’s chief trouble shooter and strategist . A role he handled with aplomb his last breath. Even when he was unwell, he used the social media platform – Twitter and Facebook with telling effect . He did not shy away from taking a dig at the Congress and the opposition with his countless hard- hitting blogs.
He had friends across party lines despite ideological differences . An attribute that is a rarity among BJP leaders . The large turn-out of leaders across party lines when he was in hospital to enquire about his health and later unfortunately at his funeral proves that even his rivals used to respect and admire him.
Just like he loved his food, Jaitley was an avid cricket fan and played a big hand in the BCCI and making Delhi cricket what it is today. BJP will surely miss him in the year’s ahead but India will miss him much more.