As a stream of visitors paid last respects to the former finance minister and BJP strongman Arun Jaitley, it was a moment of contemplation for many, who fondly remembered their association with the stalwart.
As the who’s who of the nation paid obeisance to the late leader they remembered how Jaitley touched their lives, changing them forever through his sensitive and personal approach. Being a close associate of Jaitley for over four decades, Dr Harsh Vardhan was faced with a particular dilemma. Being the health minister he regularly visited Jaitley in the hospital.
“I met him three times while he was at AIIMS over the last two weeks and he was always smiling. Five years, he struggled with health issues but never once showed it on his face,” he said.
Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala fondly remembered Jaitley’s commitment to work and recalled, “Even on his daughter’s wedding day, while he kept meeting guests he was also clearing files side by side. How important work was for him, he set an example for us. ”
Senior journalist, Rajat Sharma, who has one of the oldest friendships with the departed leader shared another insight about Jaitley.
“I met him in the hospital recently. For the first time, I realised that he may not live longer. He said I have no regrets, my kids are settled. He told me what he will do — I will retire from public life if I get better. He wanted to chat with friends and watch movies,” Sharma added.
The senior leader was always available for his colleagues.
“His personality was affable and approachable. We just had to ask him for help and he was always ready. I learnt a lot from him,” former Union Minister of State, Rajyavardhan Rathore who served under Jaitley said while trying to control his tears.
While some were forthcoming with their memories of Jaitley, there were few who wished to keep the memories under wraps.
“I wish I could tell you the most impressionable moment with him but it is sort of personal,” said a senior minister in the government when asked about his best memory of Jaitley.
The former finance minister passed away at the age of 66 at the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences, New Delhi on Saturday. He was admitted to AIIMS earlier this month after he complained of restlessness. He was placed under observation at the hospital’s Cardio-Neuro-Centre. (ANI)