Fomer Union Minister Arun Jaitley passed away on August 24, Saturday after being admitted at AIIMS, New Delhi since August 9. As tributes poured in after his demise, leaders all across the political spectrum expressed a personal connect with the leader. Though, Jaitley was a politician whose ability to take on the opposition is undisputed but for him, politics never ever came at the cost of humanity and at the cost of objectivity. He always gave others their due and his magnanimity did not quiver just because it meant praising those across party lines.
Arun Jaitley’s politics never faltered his objectivity. He was one of the few who knew how to give credit where its due. Many will recall how, following the passage of GST, the first person that the former Finance Minister walked up to thank was Dr Manmohan Singh. When GST was passed by the Parliament, even though the Congress party opposed it, it was reported that the first person Arun Jaitley walked up to was Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Jaitley had reportedly thanked him for the idea of GST. Singh had reportedly said: "It's a great move though there may be teething problems," lauding Modi govt's move to pass GST.
Arun Jaitley, was a leader who never held back praise simply because of party differences. It was in May 2014, Arun Jaitley took to his blog to praise the then outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In what is a rare phenomenon in politics, Jaitley hailed the leader of the Opposition party as an astute politician. He wrote: “He will remain an elder statesman and a man of credibility to guide the nation. Below are excerpts from his blog praising Manmohan Singh.
"The voting for the 2014 General Elections is over and the result is awaited. We have only the Exit Polls and our own analysis as a base to speculate upon. Dr. Manmohan Singh has announced that he would be stepping down as Prime Minister irrespective of the result and the mantle of the Congress Party leadership in Parliament would pass on to the next generation. I have had an opportunity of observing the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh from close quarters for the last ten years. In the last five years as Leader of Opposition I virtually have heard his every intervention in Parliament and dissected each one of his performances. I look upon him at the conclusion of his ten years tenure."
Jaitley then continued: "Unquestionably Dr. Manmohan Singh was a very good Finance Minister. He got a lot of support from his Prime Minister, PV Narasimha Rao for initiating the economic reforms in 1991. For a Congress Party government which had always professed the virtues of regulation a reformist approach was creditable. Shri PV Narasimha Rao has never been given the level of credit which he truly deserved. I am sure history will reassess him. I had recently suggested to the Prime Minister that I personally would be interested in reading his memoirs particularly those relating to the period 1991-96. The footprints he left behind as a Finance Minister during this period will be remembered for a long time."
The Union Minister enlisted two strong qualities of Singh. He said: "I discovered firstly, whenever you discussed a serious subject with the Prime Minister he came out as a man of scholarship . He was what we call to as "a Syana aadmi" and his words were measured, he would reflect before making a comment. Secondly, his personal integrity was always above board. With an element of scholarship he was always be well read and well prepared on any subject that he dealt with. He then said wished well to the then outgoing PM. "As curtains draw to a close and a ten year long period of providing leadership to the Government of India, the Prime Minister goes out with dignity and grace. He will remain an elder statesman and a man of credibility to guide the nation. Only if he had stood up at the right time and disagreed he would have been regarded with still a greater honour. I wish the Prime Minister a very good health and many more years of public service. If he were to write his memoirs and I will always want to read the chapter which deals with 1991-96 period."
Arun Jaitley was an astute politician but politics never derailed his objectivity. Even during the heated face-offs in the GST council it was he who politely sorted the diffrences between parties and made the meeting fruitful. Two years ago, at the 23rd meeting of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council held in Guwahati in November 2017, there was bitter face-off between BJP and the Congress leaders. Hailing the democratic system of governance, it was Jaitley who brought both parties to concensus and had said: “Politics outside (the room) is fine, but not inside.” Sources from inside the BJP maintain that this one anecdote sums up Jaitley’s contribution. First, in ensuring political consensus in Parliament so that the constitutional amendments to introduce the GST could go through. Second, in ensuring that the Council worked on the principle of consensus. More than once, Arun Jaitley has acted as a conciliator and his opponents respected his viewpoints because of his objectivity.
As former Union Minister Arun Jaitley passed away on August 24, Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia condoled the demise of the leader saying that it is a huge loss to the country as well as his personal loss. Congress leader Shashi Tharoor also said that though belonging to a different ideological backgrounds, he had always respected other's viewpoints. Taking to Twitter, Scindia said that he had admired the BJP leader all through his life and that 'in him the nation has lost one of its leading lights.' Kapil Sibbal hailed him as the 'Leader of Opposition he was without match.' On 5 June 2019, Senior Congress leader Manpreet Badal had called Arun Jaitely “a true democrat” and said, “Even though the BJP had an overwhelming majority in the GST Council, every decision was taken by consensus”. He had opted out of Narendra Modi cabinet 2.0.
Even during the GST proposals heated discussions in Parliament, Arun Jaitley had a humorous banter with Sonia Gandhi. During his speech in the house, Jaitley said: "You were smiling yesterday during Adhir Ranjan Choudhary's speech." The Congress president Sonia Gandhi then replied saying "I am smiling even now." It was his humane and kind mannerism that won the hearts of his political opponents, even as he remained completely rooted in his party's agenda and ideology. Meanwhile, as he passed away, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi issued a statement, saying that Arun Jaitley's contributions to public life will be remembered forever. She expressed deep pain and distress at the untimely passing away fo Arun Jaitley and said that Arun Jaitley had a long innings as a public figure, Parliamentarian and Minister.