New Delhi, Aug 25: Former finance minister Arun Jaitely had a personal bond with Jammu and Kashmir as his wife belongs to the state and his wedding procession in 1982, which included many top leaders of the BJP, was received by several Congress leaders from the bride’s side, Union Minister Jitendra Singh wrote in an emotional tribute to his senior party colleague.
In his piece ‘What Arun Jaitley meant to me’, Singh, who hails from Jammu and Kashmir, said the former Union minister had a special weakness for the state, especially because he was married to the daughter of former finance minister of Jammu and Kashmir Girdhari Lal Dogra, who was a Congress stalwart and a close confidant of late prime minister Indira Gandhi.
“Very few may recall that at the time of Arun Jaitley’s wedding, his ‘baraat’ (wedding procession) was accompanied by the BJP’s top national leadership of that time and it was received by the Congress’ top national leadership from the bride’s side,” Singh wrote.
The 66-year-old BJP leader passed away at AIIMS in New Delhi on Saturday.
The minister of state for PMO said the courage and conviction of Jaitley was evident from the fact that the last blog he wrote on August 6 was on the abrogation of Article 370, soon after the bill to end the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir had been passed by Lok Sabha.
“I was in touch with him, virtually on a day-to-day basis, but since Parliament sitting went on till late that day, I could not reach out to him. I received a phone call at around 8.45 PM when he said that he was writing a piece on abrogation of Article 370 and wanted to check on one or two facts,” he said.
Singh said what Jaitley meant to him, was perhaps “an enigma even to me. But, what I know for sure is that the void which he has left for me and many others like me, to whom he was a mentor, friend and guide, would be difficult to fill —-at least in our lifetime.”
The minister said he gave up a successful career as the professor of medicine in a medical college and joined the BJP following an advice of Jaitley, who had said “you will carve a niche for yourself” in politics.
In the current topsy-turvy and need-based politics, Singh wrote, Jaitley had the commitment and capacity to stand up for a junior or a colleague if he was convinced about what he was doing.
“He could also take up cudgels for a colleague or a friend ‘in absentia’ without the person concerned even being aware of it,” he wrote in his piece.
Singh said Jaitley was the “best brain” in the country and the best brain he came across in his lifetime.
“But, he was never conceited and could indulge in mediocre or even routine gossip in order to relate with the other person by reducing down to the latter’s level,” he added.
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