Stated PM Modi in a condolence message: “Arun Jaitley Ji was a political giant, towering intellectual and legal luminary. He was an articulate leader who made a lasting contribution to India. His passing away is very saddening. Spoke to his wife Sangeeta Ji as well as son Rohan, and expressed condolences. Om Shanti.
Jaitley, hailing from a wealthy Brahmin family in Delhi and a lawyer by profession, has been a great source of support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his first term in office in the capital. With his strong elitist links in the club circuits in Delhi, Jaitley made up for Modi’s “outsider” constraints in Delhi in the initial phase of the Gujarat strongman’s governance of the nation. This was a great relief for the PM, as many influential elders in the BJP like LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi etc were not in favour of selection of Modi as PM.
Jaitley, who was a member of Rajya Sabha, was a powerful orator and a strong presence in Parliament for repeated terms. He headed the BJP in Rajya Sabha during the UPA period, while Sushma Swaraj, who died a week ago, led the party in the Lok Sabha. Both were ailing for some time. While Jaitley’s Rajya Sabha term continued, Sushma had not contested the LS polls this time. Arun Jaitley was a minister in the previous Vajpayee-led government too. He also headed the Delhi Cricket Association, a powerful body. With a strong RSS background, he became a member of the BJP National Executive in 1991. He also functioned in the past as BJP general secretary.
Jaitley’s wife Sangeetha is daughter of former Jammu and Kashmir finance minister Girdharilal Dogra. Both daughter Sonali and son Rohan are lawyers in Delhi, carrying forward a family legacy. Jaitley’s father Maharaj Kishan, who started his practive in Lahore and after partition shifted base to New Delhi.
Jaitley entered politics through student movement. During Emergency, he was arrested and jailed after he and some others took out a procession against Emergency and black laws at Delhi University campus. At that time, he was a follower of Jaiprakash Narayan’s Total Revolution call, and also associated with the Jan Sangh, which later transformed into the BJP.–IHN-NN