New Delhi: BJP national vice president Baijayant 'Jay' Panda on Sunday recalled how former finance minister Arun Jaitley took him under his guidance when he was a rookie BJD MP in 1998, illustrating that the departed leader was not constrained by the political divide.
Paying tributes to the BJP stalwart, Panda said Jaitley, who passed away at AIIMS here on Saturday, was always ready to help him.
Panda was earlier in the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and joined the BJP in March this year ahead of Lok Sabha polls.
"I was never his rival, but a protégé. Like many, many others who fill the ranks of the Cabinet today, as well as the party hierarchy, he took me under his wing from my first day in Parliament and was like an elder brother to me, always looking for me and giving me good advice," he told PTI.
"Jaitley introduced fast track courts in India when he was the law minister (1999 to 2004). As one of the top lawyers in the country, he had a huge income, a lot of which he sacrificed by being in government," Panda said.
Panda recalled Jaitley's liking for "shawls and how he won admirers across political spectrum over "simple home-cooked lunches".
"He loved being draped in a shawl during winters, something he became known for. He had an impressive collection of them," he said.
"He was very large hearted and always accessible and inclined to help, for which he has admirers across the political spectrum. One of my fondest memories is as a first-time MP, when I occasionally sought an appointment to meet him, he would instead ask me to join him for a simple home-cooked lunch at his office," Panda said.
Jaitley had served in 1989-90 as the Additional Solicitor General for the Central government.
He was also part of the governments led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1999-2004) and Narendra Modi (2014-2019), and held multiple portfolios including those of law, defence, information and broadcasting, commerce, among others....