Arun Jaitley, who died at the age of 66 was the modern, moderate and liberal faces in the BJP, who rose to become the part of ruling triumvirate along with Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.
In 2002 after the Gujarat communal carnage when the top leadership of the BJP including the then Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee was toying with the idea for a change of guard in the state, it was L.K. Advani and Arun Jaitley who rallied around Narendra Modi.
Speaking to this newspaper, a BJP leader revealed that after the riots when Vajpayee was “adamant” in replacing “Modiji”, Jaitley under the instruction of a senior party leader rushed to Ahmedabad to meet Mr Modi and asked him to quit. Mr Modi’s offer to resign pre-empted Vajpyee’s move to sack him as the Hindutva hardliners in the party rushed in to “save the rising mascot.” Jaitley was also the man instrumental in bailing out Amit Shah during the time he was externed from Gujarat.
Jaitley’s rise in the party had been steady but it gained momentum with the rise of Narendra Modi. Some called him, Mr Modi’s “Chanakya” and Prime Minister himself had described him as a “precious diamond.”
As Jaitley climbed up the pyramid he gained powerful rivals within his outfit.
Jaitley was born in New Delhi in December 1952 to a family of a lawyer. He attended St. Xavier’s school in Civil Lines. He was in Shri Ram College of Commerce and later pursued law degree at Delhi University. He joined the ABVP and became the Dusu president in 1974. He was arrested during the Emergency and spent nearly 19 months between Ambala and Tihar jails.
Despite the Modi tsunami in 2014, Jaitley was one of few leaders who lost Lok Sabha polls. He lost to Congress’ Capt Amrinder Singh from Amritsar. Regardless the defeat, Modi held Jaitley as his “closest, after Shah.” He was given crucial finance ministry.