'Trusted mentor, great statesman': Himanta Biswa Sarma on Arun Jaitley's lasting impact on politics and policy

Arun Jaitley left a lasting impact on those he met. His charm, adherence to democratic values and compassion made him dear to many.

Himanta Biswa Sarma September 04, 2019 10:09:39 IST
'Trusted mentor, great statesman': Himanta Biswa Sarma on Arun Jaitley's lasting impact on politics and policy
  • Jaitleyji would make sure views from and issues of every state — big or small — were heard

  • One of his traits I admired was the ability to make friends across party lines

  • Be it Assam, Nagaland or Goa: His knowledge about India was vast

My association with Arun Jaitleyji began after I joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. I remember that just after four or five days of joining the party I got a message from a leader which said I should meet Jaitleyji and he also wanted to meet me.

In the very first meeting, he never let me feel that my association with him was a new one. He talked to me as if we had known each other for a long time. He conveyed the way I should work for the party and the kind of frame of mind I needed to have. It was a great learning experience.

Trusted mentor great statesman Himanta Biswa Sarma on Arun Jaitleys lasting impact on politics and policy

File image of Arun Jaitley. Twitter

I started working for the BJP in Assam when the 2016 state Assembly election was imminent. He came down to release the party's vision document. I had another enriching conversation with him on the state’s economy and was moved by the depth of his knowledge.

Soon after the historic BJP win in Assam, I was inducted to the Goods and Services Tax Council as state finance minister. Even though the BJP always had the majority in the GST Council, consensus was sometimes evasive on contentious issues. We would get restless and insist on a vote, but Jaitleyji would persuade us otherwise.

He felt GST should evolve as a proper federal institution. He would often say that there should be no voting in the GST Council unless it is of extreme importance. During the process of implementing GST, many contentious issues were sorted out by consensus building. The credit for this feat goes to Jaitleyji.

He would sit in council meetings for up to 10 hours and talk to everybody, even during lunchtime. He would not leave until a consensus was formed.

During the council meetings, Jaitleyji would make sure views from and issues of every state — big and small — were heard. For instance, he allocated an hour to discuss taxation on dry fish from Manipur. He never tried to run the house on the basis of a majority and ensured that the GST Council always had the stamp of democratic values.

One of his traits I admired was the ability to make friends across party lines.

He always left a lasting impact on those he met. His charm, adherence to democratic values and compassion made him dear to many. The clarity of his thought process and knowledge about the minutest details about Constitution, tax structure and the problems faced by Indian states never failed to amaze.

Be it Assam, Nagaland or Goa: His knowledge about India was vast.

He was extremely involved with the government's North East policies. Every BJP programme in the region has his stamp. We'd invite him to unveil the vision document each time a state in the North East went to the polls. But he wasn't content just to unveil the document: He'd sit with us, make the necessary corrections and tell us to reprint it. Only then would it be released.

I'd often speak to him about politics on the sidelines of the council meetings. The accuracy of his poll predictions were astonishing.

I still remember the Assembly elections in Manipur, Uttar Pradesh, Goa and Punjab. Many poll watchers hedged their bets, but Jaitleyji was right on the money.

His legal knowledge and profound understanding of how a society would respond to a policy decision came to the fore during the execution of the National Register of Citizens and the tabling of the Citizenship Amendment Bill. We've lost a trusted mentor and great statesman.

As told to Kangkan Acharyya

 

Updated Date:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

GST an 'absolute failure', second major attack on India's unorganised economy, claims Rahul Gandhi
Politics

GST an 'absolute failure', second major attack on India's unorganised economy, claims Rahul Gandhi

The Congress leader had earlier said that demonetisation was the first attack on the informal sector of the economy

Parliament Monsoon Session: LS passes farm bills as Harsimrat Kaur Badal quits PM's Cabinet in protest; RS discusses COVID-19 management
India

Parliament Monsoon Session: LS passes farm bills as Harsimrat Kaur Badal quits PM's Cabinet in protest; RS discusses COVID-19 management

In the Rajya Sabha, Union minister Harsh Vardhan said that a coronavirus vaccine is likely to be available in India by early next year and added that the Centre is aiming to bring down India's COVID-19 mortality rate

Parliament Updates: Lok Sabha passes controversial farm sector bills; SAD's Harsimrat Badal quits Modi Cabinet
Politics

Parliament Updates: Lok Sabha passes controversial farm sector bills; SAD's Harsimrat Badal quits Modi Cabinet

Parliament LIVE Updates: Harsimrat Kaur Badal of Shiromani Akali Dal will resign as Union minister over government's farm ordinances, PTI reported. She has been handling the food processing ministry in the NDA government since 2014