#RIPArunJaitley: Remembering the man beyond his politics
Finance Minister in Prime Minister Modi's first term and a highly-regarded parliamentarian, Arun Jaitley passed away on Saturday. His death was condoled by leaders across the political divide, showing that he touched several lives. Jaitley was an impeccable orator, BJP's troubleshooter, and a remarkable lawyer, but he also had certain qualities which many aren't aware of. Here's looking at the lesser-known side of Jaitley.
A luminary in the field of both politics and law, Jaitley's warmth will always be remembered. He treated the children of those who worked for him, as his own and funded their education. The kids of his cook and driver studied in the same school where Jaitley's children were enrolled. Not only this but he also facilitated their higher studies and sent them abroad.
Thanks to Jaitley, one of the daughters of his cook, Joginder, is studying in London. Further, had it not been for Jaitley's help, the two children of Gopal Bhandari, said to be extremely close to the BJP leader, wouldn't have become a doctor and engineer. In fact, in 2005, Jaitley gifted a car to the son of his aide OP Sharma.
In 2009, Jaitley pulled shutters down on his well-established law practice and handed it over to his erstwhile understudy Maninder Singh. Interestingly, Jaitley didn't know how to drive a car and never had a driving license.
Jaitley had a fine taste and loved Mont Blanc pens. The "writing instruments" of the German company were always found on his desk. Such was Jaitley's penchant for these pens, that he was among the few in India to order the latest edition as soon as they were announced. If unavailable here, he ordered them from abroad.
Jaitley had a thing for luxurious items. When it came to shoes, he liked John Lobb, a company which makes customized shoes. He also loved wearing high-end watches, with Swiss company Patek Philippe being his favorite. Jaitley also relished fine shawls.
Those who know Jaitley remember him as a food connoisseur. In his condolence message, BJP veteran LK Advani said, "A food lover, he never failed to recommend good restaurants to me. Also on every Deepawali, he made it a point to come with his family to our home to wish us." Professor Raj Kumar Bhatia, who worked with Jaitley during his DU days, also had a similar opinion.
Bhatia, who was the ABVP President when Jaitley headed DUSU, said, "We loved trying out different cuisines. Sweets were something that we couldn't resist." It was this love for food which made journalist Virendra Kapoor refer to the duo as "Gourmet".
Jaitley never mixed politics and friendship. He was extremely close to senior Congress leader Madhavrao Scindia, and the living room in his house at upscale Kailash Colony has a portrait of the late leader. Notably, after Scindia died in a plane crash, Jaitley accompanied his son Jyotiraditya to bring the mortal remains back. The room also has a portrait of late hotelier-cum-politician Lalit Suri.
Jaitley's art of making friends made him BJP's go-to man in Lutyens' club. Journalists approached him to understand the complex reforms of the government, and when he was the leader of the Opposition, ruling Congress knocked on his doors to get key bills passed. He teamed up with UPA-I's minister Prithvi Raj Chavan to draft an acceptable document on nuclear liability.
About Jaitley, PM Modi said he was a valued friend, and it is absolutely true. It was Jaitley who paved the path for the Gujarat Chief Minister's rise in New Delhi, at a time when many in BJP thought stalwarts were being sidelined. Never taking the hardline Hindutva approach, Jaitley was the saffron party's man for all seasons, and a media favorite. RIP Sir!