Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP and a long-term acquaintance of former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Vijay Goel recalled the former Union Minister from his college days as both the legislators studied at Shri Ram College of Commerce and had fought in student body elections in their prime. Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley passed away on Saturday, 24 August at AIIMS in Delhi after battling for his life over a week at the hospital. Jaitley's death marks the end of an extraordinary political career that has witnessed him holding incredibly important positions at various levels, both in the government and outside. On August 24, AIIMS released a statement announcing the demise of the BJP leader. It said:
Vijay Goel and Arun Jaitley studied at SRCC in Delhi and have had a 48-year association with each other. The BJP MP revealed that Arun Jaitley was his senior when he joined the SRCC. Both contested the college union elections and Jaitley went on to become the President while Goel became the secretary. After that, Jaitley was elected as the Delhi University Students' Union president. Following this, both the leaders went on to hold positions in the BJP Yuva Morcha, Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government and Narendra Modi's government. Jaitley had gone on to become the President of the BJP Yuva Morcha after which he ascended to the BJP and was then offered key roles in the government.
"It is a personal loss for me as I have lost a great friend, a good advisor, and a role model who used to help me from time to time in politics. He was not just an extraordinary lawyer but also was an excellent politician who had brilliant oratory skills. People used to come to the Parliament to see Jaitley speak. He was one such politician who had no charges or allegations against him in his career. Jaitley was very fond of cricket and was even the president of the DDCA. There were only two shortcomings in Arun Jaitley's life - one he was not blessed with a long and healthy life and two he could never make it to the Lok Sabha. I have lost a great friend today and I offer my condolences to his family and loved ones", said Vijay Goel.
Born in Delhi on December 28, 1952, Arun Jaitley studied at the St Xavier's school and went on to graduate with a degree in commerce from the Shri Ram College of Commerce in 1973, and went on to pursue an LLB at the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi. At that time, he is also said to have considered becoming a Chartered Accountant. Active in politics since his time as a student, Jaitley was a member of the ABVP and served as the President of the Delhi University Students Union in 1974. Like a number of his contemporaries in the BJP, Jaitley was put under preventive custody for fighting the Emergency as part of the JP movement, the clampdown on him lasting 19 months. He rose to become the president of the Delhi ABVP and its All India Secretary, He became the president of the youth wing of the Jan Sangh which he had joined later.
Parallel to his political commitments, Jaitley also practiced law, before the Supreme Court and numerous High Courts. He was appointed ASG in the VP Singh government in 1989 and has also appeared in several corporate matters. He stopped practicing law only in June 2009 on becoming the leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. In the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government, he had served as the Minister for Law and Justice.
He is best known for having served as the Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs in the first Narendra Modi government, has also held portfolios of Defence and Information and Broadcasting. It was Jaitley who rolled out the GST in 2017 which saw India becoming a unified market for goods and services for the first time, and was also the first chairman of the GST council, is widely credited for forging consensus leading to the Constitutional amendment that eventually passed the GST Bill. Jaitley opted out of the second Narendra Modi government, having gone to the US for two spells of treatment for a medical ailment in 2018-19. He has, however, regularly taken to Facebook and Twitter to pen blogs on various significant issues in the country.