Former Union Minister Arun Jaitley, 66, passed away at AIIMS in New Delhi on Saturday, August 24 and will be remembered as a renowned lawyer, an astute politician and a public figure who steered reform of various kinds through several decades. The former Finance Minister was always vocal about the matters he believed in and often blogged about key issues that mattered to the nation. The former Finance Minister was active in politics since his student days. Jaitley went on to become one of the BJP’s senior-most leaders and played a crucial role in Prime Minister Modi's cabinet during his first tenure. The Former Union Minister had many accomplishments to his name-- he not only held the all-important portfolios of Union Finance Minister and Defence Minister in Narendra Modi’s first term at the Centre, but was also the leader of the house in the Rajya Sabha for the Narendra Modi Government.
Arun Jaitley’s blog is a repository of prolifically written and deeply analysed works on a variety of topics of public, political and national importance. Here's a list of a few of the thought-provoking and comprehensive blogs written by the former Finance Minister:
In the last post he wrote on his blog, dated 6th August 2019, the former Union Minister opined on how the history of Jammu and Kashmir and its special status had been geared towards 'separatism not integration'. Following the landmark abrogation of Article 370 by the Modi government, he wrote:
"This experiment of special status and handover of the State to Sheikh (Abdullah) Sahab and then put Congress Governments in power was a historic blunder. The history of the past seven decades shows that the journey of this separate Status has been towards separatism and not integration. It created a separatist psyche. Pakistan was more than enthusiastic in trying to exploit the situation."
While strongly batting for the revocation of the Article, Mr. Jaitley through his writing explained “the negative impact of Article 370 and Article 35A on citizens of Kashmir”.
“Any citizen of India could go and settle in Kashmir, make investments and create jobs for development. Today, there are no industries, hardly any private sector hospital, no credible educational institution set up by the private sector. India’s most beautiful State has not had investments from even the hotel chains. Consequently, there are no new jobs for the local people, no revenue for the State. This gave rise to frustration in all regions of the State. These constitutional provisions are not cast in stone. They had to be removed/ diluted through the due process of law. Article 35A was not even approved by the Parliament or State Assembly. It defied Article 368 which lays down the procedure for amending the Constitution. It was brought in through back door by an executive notification. It permits discrimination and makes it non-justiciable.”
As a tall public figure who often steered social reform in our times, Jaitley had been a strong proponent of the need to end the social evil of Triple Talaq - a cause he espoused and argued on numerous occasions following the court verdicts as well as when the bill came up for discussion in Parliament. Writing about the passage of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 which criminalised instant talaq, he reminded everyone that India was “governed by (a) Constitution” that had no place for Triple Talaq.
On his blog, he wrote, " Granting an arbitrary right to a husband to orally and instantaneously divorce his wife and does not deal with any ritual which is in the domain of religion. In a society governed by Constitution and the rule of law, prima facie, this practice of oral divorce violates both the right to equality and the right of a woman to live with dignity.."
During the hectic peak of election campaigning, Jaitley had written on the fragility of the Mahagathbandhan - the moniker given to an attempt to forge an alliance of Opposition parties prior to the Lok Sabha 2019 elections which never really transpired.
The former Finance Minister put the ethos of democracy and governance first in his blog post when he wrote “Coalition of rivals' lasts only a few months. The electorate is clear that it wants a five year Government and not a five-month one. It is thus confronted with the choice of a Modi vs. Chaos. Obviously, the electorates’ wisdom has to be trusted when he makes a choice. The 'Modi mandate' could be larger than 2014.”
Truly a believer in democratic structures, Jaitley often spoke and wrote at length against the system of nepotism and dynasties. In one such blog, the former Union Minister took on his political opponents on the practice of dynastic politics.
He wrote, “When mindsets are feudal, dynasties survive. Dynasties also survive when they are charismatic and have an ability to deliver. A lot of supporters accept subjugation because of the ability of the dynasty to put them in positions. What happens to dynasties when the feudal mindsets change and nations become more aspirational?”
Arun Jaitley on April 13, 2019, noted how the people of India want real issues to be addressed and not those created at the cost of nationalism to suit a political narrative.
In the post which was widely shared ahead of the 17th Lok Sabha election, Jaitley wrote, "One day Pulwama was questioned as self-engineered. The next day Balakot was questioned as a non-existent operation. The anti-satellite missile was passed off as a Nehruvian contribution. One day BJP is accused of whipping up war hysteria. There is no leader, no Gathbandhan, no Common Minimum Programme and no real issue. Not surprisingly there are not many takers for a "failed campaign." It is 'Rent a Cause' Campaign."
In an erudite piece on the day marking 2 years of the completion of Demonetisation, Jaitely provided a deep perspective on the need and the impact of the big bold reform with complete clarity for all Indians and the world.
He wrote, “Confiscation of currency was not an objective of Demonetisation. Getting it into the formal economy and making the holders pay tax was the broader objective. The system required to be shaken in order to make India move from cash to digital transactions.This would obviously have an impact on higher tax revenue and a higher tax base.”
Earlier this year, the former Cabinet Minister on March 24 wrote about the "unfortunate phenomenon" known as 'Dynasties owning political parties'.
In his writing, Jaitley observed, "Dynasties impose leaders. These leaders don’t become great – greatness is thrust on them. Some suffer from what psychologists now regard as the ‘Dunning-Kruger effect.’ They believe that those who suffer from this effect have a bias of illusory superiority which comes from the inability of low-ability people to recognise their lack of ability. Without the self-awareness of their limitations, such low ability people cannot objectively evaluate their own competence or incompetence. This leads to their miscalculation in their assessment of the calibre of highly incompetent ones."
Jaitely on 4 December 2018 wrote about India’s Rural Sector and his optimism about India’s growth trajectory.
He wrote, “These resources have improved our infrastructure, are improving the quality of life of people living therein, have increased agricultural productivity and are intended to give a remunerative price to the farmers. The past four and half years is just the beginning. If this level of investment with its annual increase is continued in the rural areas for at least the next two decades, we will be close to providing a quality of life and infrastructure in rural areas which is more urban-like.”
On January 11, 2014, the then-Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha wrote an extensive blog post after the then Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde’s announcement that he would be writing to all Chief Minister across India to “review terrorism cases against members of the minority” community.
A true believer in secularism and vocal fighter for the protection of it for the sake of the true implementation of the Indian constitution and Indian law, Jaitley wrote, “The directive/advisory of the Union Home Minister to the States to discriminate between criminals on basis of religion is based on an improper policy. It violates the constitutional guarantee of equality. It is violative of the fundamental principles and provisions of criminal law. The States are not bound by such unconstitutional directives of the Home Minister.”
Penning an alternate view to the judgement on the NJAC, Jaitley wrote a post on the subject on October 15, 2015.
“As someone who has spent more years in court than in Parliament, I feel constrained to speak out for Indian democracy. There is no principle in democracy anywhere in the world that institutions of democracy are to be saved from the elected,” the former Union Minister wrote.
Jaitley’s post came from a position that batted both for the independence of the judiciary and the sovereignty of Parliament. The Former Union Minister who was witness to both the Vajpayee and the Modi tenures, wrote, “As someone who is equally concerned about the independence of judiciary and the sovereignty of India’s Parliament, I believe that the two can and must co-exist. Independence of the judiciary is an important basic structure of the Constitution. To strengthen it, one does not have to weaken Parliamentary sovereignty which is not only an essential basic structure but is the soul of our democracy.”
In Winter Session 2015, Rajya Sabha functioned at the productivity of approximately 51 per cent, with only 17 per cent of the time being used for legislative matters. With only 6 bills being passed in the Upper House that Session, Jaitley took to his blog to remind the Opposition of words spoken by India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
On December 14, 2015, Jaitley wrote, “The last session of the Parliament did not function. The current Session of the Parliament is also threatened with a washout. The reasons for the washout of the current Session keep changing by the hour. The nation is waiting for the Parliament to discuss public issues, to legislate and approve a historic Constitution Amendment enabling the GST. All this is being indefinitely delayed. The question we need to ask ourselves is, “are we being fair to ourselves and this country?”
Sharing on his blog that he had re-read the speech “on the Parliamentary system by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru”, he urged his political opponents to remind themselves of their “privilege” of being “responsible for the governance of India.”
“Those who claim the legacy of Pandit ji must ask themselves the question, what kind of history are they making,” wrote Jaitley who always stood for the sanctity of Parliament and the system of democracy in India.