What connects BJP patriarch LK Advani, the late former minister Madhavrao Scindia of the Congress and JDU leader Sharad Yadav?
They were all clients of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley when he used to practice law.
What connects bitter rivals Pepsi Cola and Coca Cola in India?
You guessed it. It’s Jaitley and he has represented them both in the past. First he fought for Pepsi against Coke and later joined hands with Coke in a case that would help Pepsi too!
When the fight was going on for picking up BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate, Advani and Narendra Modi both counted on Jaitley. Jaitley veered towards eventual winner Modi and also maintained his good ties with Advani.
Even though he was junior at that time, he could easily have been called (the then Prime Minister AB) Vajpayee’s man. Then he was Advani’s man.
And today he is Modi’s man and how! He became the only man other than a Prime Minister to hold both the Defence Ministry and Finance Ministry. So dependent has Modi been on Jaitley that some have even called it a "Jaitley sarkar”.
He is the ultimate Lutyens’ insider and yet he gets along famously with the man Lutyens Delhi hates the most: Modi. Such contradictions are part and parcel of Jaitley’s life and he moves easily between both worlds.
He got along famously with firebrand Uma Bharti in 2003 and helped in her campaign to become Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister. Then he backed her successor Shivraj Singh Chouhan and shares an excellent relationship with him too.
He admirably balances the right and left. He may have made his early political career with the ABVP, but the Janata Dal VP Singh government made him an Additional Solicitor General.
Jaitley has built good bridges with the RSS despite the WikiLeaks documents showing that he made a claim that Hindu nationalism was just an opportunistic issue for the BJP. Many BJP supporters call him opportunistic and complain of his close proximity with Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
In fact one mentions Sonia then one must commend her tremendous media management skills. How many media house are willing to go after Sonia? How many bad stories against Sonia have you come across in the last few years? Few senior editors and politicians are willing to go after Sonia and it is the exceptions which end up making news.
Wait a minute. You could well replace Sonia with Jaitley!
And Jaitley’s media management skills are more commendable because the intellectual infrastructure of India is hostile towards the BJP.
That is why you could say that AAP Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has set the cat among pigeons by accusing Jaitley of being involved in impropriety during his days in the DDCA (Delhi & District Cricket Association).
A few Twitter handles immediately started chuckling in delight as they said Kejriwal had finally bitten off more than he could chew because everyone loved Jaitley.
They were proved right. Former Congress Chief Minister Digvijay Singh did make some noises but ended up challenging Kejriwal to go to court if he was so sure. He is the same man who saw an RSS hand in 26/11.
Cricketers like Virat Kohli, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir jumped to his defence and made rare public statements to back him. Soon people all across the political spectrum came out in support.
Even Prime Minister Modi, who usually maintains silence when such controversies are going on, said that Jaitley would "come through with flying colours”!
In fact BJP MP Kirti Azad who held a rare grouse with Jaitley and got nowhere in the past thought that this was the time to strike when the iron was hot. He was mistaken. His frustration was evident when he called Jaitley a "napunsak” (impotent) on his Twitter account.
I was visited at home by so many agencies to take precaution against threat to my life. Dear @arunjaitley darta nahin hoon napunsako se
While he said that his Twitter account was hacked, the truth remains that he Tweeted or ReTweeted dozens of anti-Jaitley Tweets and refused to delete the above when caught.
Jaitley may have the last laugh as there is a move to suspend Azad! You may remember that BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha has made many anti-BJP statements but nobody is even talking of his suspension.
Azad cannot count on support from cricketing stalwarts too. Congressman Rajiv Shukla shares an excellent rapport with Jaitley and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar had sought the BJP leader’s help to become BCCI President.
You cannot even expect the media to go after him. An anti-BJP channel like NDTV also gives Jaitley widespread favourable coverage.
The truth is that Jaitley is a master networker and has managed affairs in such a way that the wide spectrum across politics and media loves him and will not go after him. In fact when a news website published a piece against him some time back, they had to remove it in its entirety!
It is no surprise that he managed to wrest the Information & Broadcasting Ministry from Prakash Javadekar.
The only place where he is blasted is on Twitter. His critics vigorously trended #DDCAhauntsJaitley and #ShameOnArunJaitley but of no avail. Twitter has known to end many careers, but not Jaitley’s!
Jaitley has filed a defamation case against Kejriwal and with the way things have gone the firebrand activist politician may well have to apologize in court and join the "I love Jaitley" club thereafter!
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here