“I am overcome with emotion as I stand in front of you today to release the book titled ‘The Renaissance Man-The Many Facets of Arun Jaitley’. Even months after his passing away, I still find it difficult to come to terms with the bitter fact that he is no more.
Within a short span, I lost two of my closest friends—Shri Jaitley and Smt Sushma Swaraj. Both of them were like my family members to whom I used to look up to whenever I faced any dilemma or problem.
My association with Shri Jaitley goes a long way—back to our student days when I was the Students Union President at the Andhra University and he was at the helm of the Students Union at Delhi University.
We drew closer as we graduated into young politicians from student activists. Both of us were imprisoned during the dark days of Emergency when democracy was emasculated and every sane voice of reason was muzzled. Thus, we became fellow travelers in the rough-and-tumble of Indian politics and developed a mutual admiration and respect for each other.
From the moment I got acquainted with Jaitley Ji, I was simply struck by his warmth and cordiality. He was a thorough gentleman and a man of impeccable integrity. A staunch opponent of corruption and a committed democrat, he never compromised on the principles to which he was wedded.
Ever smiling and genial in nature, he was a multi-faceted genius and a powerhouse of knowledge with a sharp analytical mind.
Of course, his biggest asset was his ability to communicate effectively and explain even the most complex matters in a simple, lucid manner. Endowed with the gift of narration, his story-telling skills were legendary and his acquaintances used to relish every moment spent with this raconteur-par-excellence.
His deft handling of the economy at a critical time is all too well-known. Jaitley Ji’s persuasive skills and the spirit of camaraderie were in full display to evolve a consensus and bring everyone on board during the tough negotiations for introducing one of the most awaited and revolutionary taxation measures—the GST. Unmindful of his health, Jaitley Ji had to burn midnight oil on many occasions to build consensus and for the successful roll-out of GST. Today, we can see for ourselves how the country stood to benefit from his dedicated efforts.
Similarly, Jaitley Ji took measures to ensure that the banking sector did not slip into a deeper morass due to NPAs and prevented crony capitalists from exploiting the system. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code was another major reform introduced during his tenure which proved to be a revolutionary step in this direction.
Among other brilliant facets of his, Jaitley Ji was an excellent Parliamentarian. While in Opposition, instead of trying to score brownie points, he used to convincingly put across his viewpoint to the ruling party and make the government see reason in his argument. When in government, he would counter the opposition's criticism with equal ferocity buttressing his arguments with facts and figures.
Jaitley Ji was my go-to-man for the past many decades. I used to seek his sage counsel whenever needed and I must confess that I was never disappointed with the advice given to me. His frankness was another admirable quality and he never hesitated to call a spade a spade.
We had quite a few common interests. Both Shri Jaitley and I were fond of different cuisines and used to regularly visit various restaurants.
Of course, his geniality, warm and friendly disposition endeared him to one and all across the political spectrum. Irrespective of whether he was in the government or in the opposition, he used to maintain excellent personal relations and friendship with leaders across the political spectrum.
Jaitley Ji donned different roles with panache and aplomb—as a most distinguished lawyer, party spokesperson, cricket administrator, opposition leader and Union Minister. He left his indelible mark on the ministries he handled from Defence to Corporate Affairs to Finance.
He was known to be generous to a fault and was extremely considerate towards not only those in need of help and never hesitated to lend a helping hand to anybody in distress. Jaitley Ji was a politician who belonged to a rare breed and always placed the interests of the country above everything else.
This book containing the articles on Jaitley Ji was brought out by my son and daughter as a token of their love and affection for him. He was like a family member to all of us and has left us all with a world of memories.