Modi’s precious diamond and original ‘Chanakya’

New Delhi: Informally called ‘scholar minister’ in political circles, he could be the man Friday of anyone at the helm. Suave, articulate and a super strategist, Arun Jaitley was the BJP’s and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s chief trouble-shooter whose superb four-decade-long political career was cut short by health issues.
A consensus builder, he was regarded by some as Modi’s original ‘Chanakya’, his chief trouble-shooter since 2002 when the Gujarat riots hung over the then chief minister like a dark cloud. Not just Modi, he reportedly was also instrumental in bailing out Amit Shah during the time he was externed from Gujarat. Shah was often sighted in those days at Jaitley’s Kailash Colony office and the two would share meals several times a week.
In the months preceding the formal announcement of Modi as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in 2014, Jaitley worked discreetly behind the scenes to bring around Rajnath Singh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Nitin Gadkari. A lawyer by training, he was a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and when Modi, who once described Jaitley as a “precious diamond”, became Prime Minister, he was entrusted with the all-important job of Finance Minister — overtaking the likes of Arun Shourie and Subramanian Swamy.
He was even given additional charge of defence when Manohar Parrikar’s health deteriorated. Knowing well how to work the levers of power, he was Modi’s go-to man in New Delhi since the late 1990s and over the years, graduated from being the legal brain, warding off court troubles in the aftermath of the 2002 riots, to being his chief swordsman, input provider and sounding board.
With his multi-faceted experience and acumen, Jaitley was the man for the Modi government in its first term from 2014 to 2019.
Be it showcasing the government’s achievements or defending controversial policies or launching a fierce attack on the Congress or framing the 2019 election as a contest between stability and chaos, few could have been more effective.
To the nation, he explained the global context of rising fuel prices, articulated a complex Rafale fighter jet deal in simple terms and steered through Parliament major economic legislations such as the nationwide Goods and Services Tax (GST) — which had languished for nearly two decades. He was also the man who explained the government’s position when a bill to ban the Muslim instant divorce practice known as ‘triple talaq’ was brought. (PTI)