Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, who held key ministries under the UPA government, said that Arun Jaitley was a dear friend to him and that as a leader of Opposition, he was unmatched. Jaitley, 66, passed away on Saturday at Delhi's AIIMS after a brief illness.
"It is with profound grief that we inform about the sad demise of former finance minister Arun Jaitley, Member of Parliament (MP) at 12:07 p.m. on Saturday. Jaitley was admitted in AIIMS, New Delhi on August 9 and was treated by a multi-disciplinary team of senior doctors," said Aarti Vij, chairperson, Media and Protocol, AIIMS.
Jaitley held the finance and defence portfolios in the BJP government's first term, and often acted as the chief troubleshooter of the government as well as many Opposition members.
Recalling his young days when he worked with Jaitley, Sibal, who too is a lawyer by profession, in an interaction with CNBC-TV18's Shereen Bhan, said, "Most of the time he would be helping me or assisting me in a matter, it is seldom that we appeared against each other."
"We played cricket together and I think in one of the matches against the judges, I think we had the longest partnership of almost about 35-40 runs," Sibal recalled. He added that the two could not work together after Jaitley joined the BJP.
Talking about Jaitley's tenure as the finance minister in the BJP government, Sibal said that "he was an outstanding parliamentarian" and "always kept a sense of balance wherever he stood both in politics and otherwise".
"I think there was a 'Lakshman Rekha' that he never crossed or he seldom crossed because he realised that politics is not just about demeaning somebody, it is about making an argument and winning it," Sibal added.
The senior Congress leader further said that the versatility Jaitley had in dealing with matters was a rare quality.
"He had relationships with people, longstanding relationships. He had a lot of very close contacts with the media, so his channels of information were remarkable, so he could actually pre-empt people and that is his great contribution to the party," said Sibal.
First Published: IST