Ashutosh Mishra

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: Within the span of a few weeks Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has lost two of its most articulate and efficient leaders whose appeal cut across party lines. The diminutive Sushma Swaraj, one of the most able and humane external affairs ministers of the country, was the first go. Then came the second blow with veteran, Arun Jaitley breathing his last at AIIMS, Delhi.

Both leaders had been battling health problems. But still when the end came it left friends and colleagues grief-stricken with a feeling of irreparable loss. Their sentiments were easy to understand as both Swaraj and Jaitley were highly respected and experienced leaders. Apart from being excellent administrators they were also great orators. If Jaitley, a brilliant lawyer, could demolish the opposition in the parliament with his irrefutable arguments Swaraj could hold people spell-bound at her public meetings.

I had the opportunity to witness her oratorical brilliance on a few occasions in Bhubaneswar. The first occasion was when she came to the city with former Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, who also happened to be one of her political mentors. The second time was when she campaigned for BJP and Biju Janata Dal alliance candidates when the two parties were ruling the state in tandem.

Her fiery speeches belied her physical stature. For someone who had not seen her it would have been difficult to believe that such a diminutive person could pack so much of power and fire in her speeches. A pocket dynamo Swaraj left her stamp on whichever ministry she was given charge of during her long and brilliant political career. But perhaps she would be best remembered for her stint as the external affairs minister of the country. She was truly a pro-people minister, always ready to help those in distress. A simple Twitter message was enough for her to take up the cause of people in need.

Her stint as external affairs minister would be remembered by people both in India and Pakistan as even people across the border remain beholden to her for her acts of kindness. Her tenure in the ministry also saw several complex procedures being made easy for which people will remain ever grateful to her.

Jaitley unlike Swaraj was not a great public speaker but he was an excellent debater. A seasoned lawyer he could make his point in the most forceful manner. Backed by facts his arguments were irrefutable and his brilliance as a debater was often on display in the parliament.

Jaitley, however, will be best remembered for his role as the finance minister of the country. It was during his tenure as finance minister that momentous decisions like demonetization and implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) were taken. Both the decisions sparked off controversies but ultimately proved to be good for the country. The firmness with which Jaitley backed these decisions and argued in favour of them was remarkable. He also enjoyed the complete support of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi who treated him more as a friend than as a colleague.

The BJP is going to miss the services of both Swaraj and Jaitley. The void caused by them will be difficult to fill.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)