In Jaitley’s demise, Naveen lost his most dependable friend in BJP!

Naveen Patnaik and Arun Jaitley shared a great rapport which was evident when during one of Jaitley’s visit to Odisha, both left for lunch at Naveen Niwas keeping BJP workers waiting

Bhubaneswar: When the AIIMS made a terse statement that the versatile politician and former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley breathed his last Saturday, his famous quote, “It is not the end, but start of the journey,” flashes up in one’s mind.

Arun Jaitley, who was the chief strategist of BJP’s electoral war room, though  had donned many hats, will be best remembered as the prime architect of demonetisation and chief author of the One nation, One tax concept or commonly known as GST (Goods & Services Tax).

As chief strategist of BJP’s electoral war room, how Jaitley gauged the  pulse of the voters in Odisha is best evidenced from the statement he made in April this year. He said, “Odisha, Bengal and North-east will be going to be the biggest surprises this election.” And the reality on the D-day (May 23) was, BJP won big in Odisha. The party bagged 8 LS seats and emerged as the main opposition party in Odisha Assembly.

Another instance of Jaitley’s involvement in Odisha poll politics is evident, when in 2014 LS polls it was he who was in the State to seal, if possible, an anti-BJD alliance in Odisha. Jaitley held a lot of confabulations with the smaller parties in Odisha. It is a different matter that the talks failed to fructify then.

Though Jaitley pulled out all the stops to make BJP trump Naveen-led BJD in Odisha polls, he also has been CM Naveen Patnaik’s most dependable friend in NDA and BJP. It has been learnt that the personal rapport between both the leaders was in tact even after both parties parted ways.

The strong bond between Naveen and Jaitley was to fore during the first Make in Odisha conclave at Bhubaneswar in 2016, when as the then Finance Minister he was the chief guest at the mega event.

Interestingly, when Odisha BJP had then organised a luncheon meeting for Jaitley at a star hotel here, Naveen took  Arun Jaitley in his official car for a lunch  at his residence, where both were together for over half-an-hour. And what surprised observers then was Jaitley’s visit to Naveen Niwas was not on the Itinerary of his official visit.