ARUN JAITLEY died in pain, and it had nothing to do with the soft tissue cancer or renal troubles. Those were battles that he faced with fortitude. He would have been at peace if he had seen the people of Kashmir singing Ladishah songs or Kashmiri pandits dancing to Henzae songs in Lal Chowk.
He waited for as long as he could, and then gave up. Kashmiris also want to mourn his death but there’s a man outside who could shoot them the next moment.
Since India seems to be much saddened by the death of Arun Jaitley and river of sorrows are flowing across party lines, it is important that we all recall the great legacy and the true stuff that we believe Arun Jaitley was made of.
Amit Shah has said his loss is personal, and that Jaitley was family. Milind Deora has said he was his mentor and guide — a near revelation but one that didn't shock people in the Congress. Shashi Tharoor was so shocked that he could hardly use any polysyllabic words while describing their "healthy mutual respect.” The cerebral India that appears on 9 pm debates on television has christened him as a 'towering intellectual.'
I believe that Arun Jaitley deserved all these epitaphs and epithets. I believe he was a person whose soul cried for a united India where everyone had the freedom to profess his faith, have access to opportunities and make better meaning of life.
I believe that Arun Jaitley was someone who could never remain silent when a community was being subjected to unprecedented vitriol and hate spewing. I believe that Arun Jaitley felt sickened to the core at some of the stuff said during the last election campaign.
I believe that Arun Jaitley was a man whose heart cried rivers of blood when he watched Pehlu Khan being beaten to pulp on the road in videos that played on a loop on screens that he was often very close to.
I believe that Tabrez Ansari being made to chant the name of the Lord he little believed in, made a sick Arun Jaitley feel like getting up and going after the louts with a big stick in hand, but he wasn’t keeping a good health.
I believe that Arun Jaitley was a deeply democratic person and that he always believed in the free expression of the will of the people. I believe that Arun Jaitley was always clear that the Opposition not only deserved its rightful and respectable place but needs to be heard even more keenly when it is too small.
I believe that the Arun Jaitley that we lost today was so wedded to the democratic values that he felt pained while having to assume duties as the Finance Minister of the country after the electorate of Amritsar had sent him packing a defeated person. Modi's whiz-kid was a democratically rejected man during a Modi wave election, but was made a Finance Minister. I believe that the democratic inner self of Arun Jaitley must be very sad at such perversion of an electoral verdict but he assumed the ministership because he was deeply aware of how Mother India really needed the services of a "towering intellectual" and a "great politician."
I believe that Arun Jaitley was a man who could never take off his eyes from the cause of the farmers in distress. I believe that it made him difficult to even swallow food when he saw the farmers of Tamil Nadu with rats dangling in their teeth, the skulls of their fellow farmers who had chosen to commit suicide, lying by their side.
I believe that Arun Jaitley knew that the lakhs of crores being doled out to India's corporate tzars but India's farmers being denied farm loan waivers was ‘inhuman economics’ by any stretch of logic or imagination but he felt like a prisoner of the reigning economic ideology and actually wanted to do much for the farmers. I believe he felt the pain very deeply and everytime he would swallow a morsel of food, he would wonder if the farmer who grew that morsel of rice or wheat was still alive or had committed suicide.
I believe that he realised the pain that people like P. Sainath, peddlers of statistics about suicide-hit farmers and farm labourers, were giving to well meaning politicians and intellectuals pursuing their careers with dedication, and therefore defended the decision of the National Crime Records Bureau to no more collate this data. I believe that he believed that the pain should be limited and not farmed out through authentic and officially endorsed data of the dead.
I believe that he remained disturbed for days and weeks after demonetisation on his watch as he saw long queues of innocent and honest people lining up before ATMs and grown men breaking down before cameras as they described how they just wanted to withdraw a few hundred rupees from their own accounts to hold a birthday party for their kid.
I believe that Arun Jaitley was a man who could never forget the pain of India being torn asunder as men chanting the name of the Lord, whose picture he routinely bowed before, brought down a centuries-old mosque in a town called Ayodhya.
I believe that he was so hurt at comments like Hindu Rajya being restored after 800 years in India that he could never forgive those who peddled such stuff.
I believe that the lawyer inside Arun Jaitley often wanted to shriek at the top of his voice that he longed to defend the victims of 2002 killings of Muslims in Gujarat and he was very keen to ensure that the perpetrators go to jail and rot for what they did to some citizens of Mother India.
I believe that Arun Jaitley, who had remained active in Delhi’s student politics, wanted the young students on the JNU campus and the urchins in the streets of Kashmir to grow up in an India where they get to see the politicians of India fighting to retain the secular character of the country.
I believe that Arun Jaitley wanted the kind of medical attention available to him to be available to every son and daughter of Mother India, especially to those who worked with their bare hands to eke out a living. I believe that Arun Jaitley worked his entire life to achieve that objective.
I believe that Arun Jaitley wanted every child of Mother India to study in a good school, but then everyone around Arun Jaitley or those who tracked his career would already know that he must have fought for it all his life.
I believe that he seriously believed in MGNREGA and the need to give guaranteed work to the poorest of India's poor, and that he allocated maximum possible funds for welfare schemes.
I believe that Arun Jaitley was a relentless fighter against corruption in the political party system, and that he wanted to vanquish corruption of both kinds. He was very disturbed by the lack of inner party democracy in other political parties and that is why in his own party, he never tolerated one man becoming the party. That is why his own party remained so democratic and is an example of collective leadership and consensus underwriting all moves and decisions of the government and the party.
Also, I believe that he was very much against political parties being opaque about their fund raising and I believe that he waged a dharamyudh against such practices and fought till the end to bring in complete transparency in election and political party funding.
I believe that he was a true practitioner of the Indian Constitution and particularly believed in Part 3 of the Constitution. That is why I believe he was dead set against all declared or undeclared forms of Emergency.
I believe he was sworn to never use the ghost of nationalism to subdue or silence his critics.
Since The Indian Express quoted him as having said in an interview that "this government will be remembered for establishing a precedent that India is capable of running a 100 per cent honest government," he must have died in peace at least on this front because today, I believe, the government is either 100 per cent honest or about to achieve that mark if it is a fraction of a percentage point away.
I believe that Arun Jaitley was strongly against lawyers charging astronomical sums from their clients and always charged the most reasonable fee from poor litigants. I believe that he always wanted to represent the victims of human rights abuses and those suffering at the hands of a coercive state structure free of cost because I believe no cause was more dear to his heart than the cause of human rights and civil liberties. I firmly believe that he would have any day represented the likes of Soni Sori if only he had been approached.
I believe that Arun Jaitley was especially empathetic to the poor because he had seen from close quarters the workings and machinations of corporations such as Pepsi Co. and Coca Cola whom he had represented along with many other multinationals, in the Supreme Court.
I believe that he worked very hard to ensure the passage of the Women Reservation Bill and the Jan Lokpal Bill though sometimes one cannot succeed all the time.
I believe that Arun Jaitley in whom I believed always wanted to work with a very loving and understanding person, one known for a tender heart and a deeply humanising touch, and that is why he always had a cordial and deeply trusting relationship with our prime minister Narendra Modi ji, and was lucky to serve Mother India under this great human being who is doing all he can to ensure India never waivers from the promises it made to itself in the preamble to its Constitution.
We, the people who believed in the Arun Jaitley who I believe was the man I believe he was, mourn him deeply and sadly.
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