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Arun Jaitley: A look at the former finance minister and BJP stalwart's career

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Former finance minister and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley, who has been suffering from soft-tissue sarcoma, is reportedly in critical condition at Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

Arun Jaitley: A look at the former finance minister and BJP stalwart's career
Former finance minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley, who has been suffering from soft-tissue sarcoma, is reportedly in critical condition at Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
Jaitley, 66, was admitted at the AIIMS facility on August 9 due to breathing problems. President Ram Nath Kovind visited the former cabinet minister on Friday morning.
Undergoing treatment in the Intensive Care Unit, he has been visited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, vice-president Venkaiah Naidu, defence minister Rajnath Singh, and health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan.
Jaitley held important positions in the Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s first term, including finance, defence and corporate affairs.
Prior to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, he wrote to the prime minister, informing him of his decision to not take up any roles in the cabinet, due to his deteriorating health.
Here’s a look at his four-decade career in the legal sector and Indian politics:
 
  • Jaitley was born on December 28, 1952 in New Delhi. He spent his entire schooling years at St Xavier’s School, graduating in 1969.
  • He graduated with a BCom Honours degree from Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) in 1973. He achieved an LLB degree from the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi in 1977.
  • Practising law in the Supreme Court and several high courts since 1987, he became a senior advocate in 1990. He did the paperwork for the Bofors scandal investigation as the additional solicitor general in VP Singh’s government.
  • He is the author of several publications on legal affairs, and was a delegate for the Government of India in a June 1998 United Nations General Assembly session.
  • Jaitley was a student leader of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) in the 1970s, and the president of the Students Union at DU in 1974.
  • During the Emergency, he was detained and imprisoned for 19 months at Delhi’s Tihar Jail. An avid follower of Jayaprakash Narayan, he joined the Jan Sangh after his release, which later became part of the Janata Party.
  • He was the convener of the Loktantric Yuva Morcha when Janata Party came into power in 1977, and was appointed the president of the Delhi ABVP and All India Secretary of the ABVP.
  • Joining the BJP in 1980, he was the president of its youth wing and secretary of its Delhi unit.
  • He was BJP’s spokesperson in 1999, just before the Lok Sabha elections. After the NDA came into power, under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he was the minister of state for information and broadcasting, and the newly-created minister of state for disinvestment.
  • Jaitley was made an MP of the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat in April 2000, and he took over Ram Jethmalani’s charge of the ministry of law, justice and company affairs in July.
  • He was promoted to cabinet minister in November 2000, simultaneously becoming the minister of law, justice and company affairs, and shipping.
  • He demitted both offices by 2002 to join the BJP as its general secretary and national spokesperson, holding that position until January 2003. Then, he returned to the Union Cabinet as the minister of commerce and industry, and law and justice, until the NDA was defeated in the 2004 general election.
  • He was re-elected as an MP from Gujarat in 2006 and 2012, and was the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha from 2009 to 2012. Due to his duties in that role, he stopped practising law in June 2009.
  • He lost his first and only Lok Sabha election from the Amritsar constituency, vacated by Navjot Singh Sidhu, to senior Congress leader Amarinder Singh in 2014, but was re-elected to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh in 2018.
  • After the NDA’s landmark win in 2014, Prime Minister Modi appointed Jaitley in the cabinet ministries of finance, corporate affairs, and defence.
  • He was the finance minister during the banknote demonetisation move in 2016 as well as the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) in 2017. Jaitley was adjudged as an expert and leader on LGBTQ issues.
  • In May 2018, he underwent a kidney transplant at AIIMS and months later, in January 2019, was diagnosed with a rare form of soft-tissue sarcoma. He opted out of the 2019 general election, citing health reasons.
  • Jaitley is married to Sangeeta, the daughter of former Jammu and Kashmir finance minister, Girdhari Lal Dogra. They married in 1982, and have two children, Rohan and Sonali, who are both lawyers.
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