Arun Jaitley (born 28 December 1952) is an Indian politician and lawyer who is the current Finance Minister, Minister of Corporate Affairs and Minister of Information and Broadcasting in the Cabinet of India. A member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Jaitley previously held the cabinet portfolios of Commerce and Industry and Law and Justice in the Vajpayee government (1998–2004) and briefly served as the Minister of Defence in the Narendra Modi government. From 2009 to 2014 he served as the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. He is a Senior Advocate of the Delhi High Court.
Arun was born on December 28, 1952 in New Delhi to Maharaj Kishen Jaitley, a lawyer and social activist Ratan Prabha. He studied at St. Xavier’s School, New Delhi from 1957–69. He graduated in Commerce from Shri Ram College of Commerce, New Delhi in 1973. He passed his Law degree from the University of Delhi, in 1977.
Jaitley was an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) student leader in the Delhi University Campus in the seventies and rose to be the President of the Students Union of Delhi University in 1974.. During the period of proclamation of Internal Emergency (1975–77) when civil liberties were suspended, he was under preventive detention for a period of 19 months.He was a prominent leader of a movement against corruption launched in the year 1973 by Raj Narain and Jayaprakash Narayan. He was the Convenor of the National Committee for Students and Youth organisation appointed by Jai Prakash Narayan.He was also active in civil rights movement and helped found PUCL Bulletin along with Satish Jha and Smitu Kothari.After being released from jail he joined the Jan Sangh.
In 1977, being the convener of the Loktantric Yuva Morcha at a time when the Congress suffered defeat, Jaitley was appointed the president of the Delhi ABVP and All India Secretary of the ABVP. He was then made the president of the youth wing of the BJP and the secretary of the Delhi Unit in 1980, a short time after joining the party.
Jaitley has been practising law before the Supreme Court of India and several High Courts in the country since 1977.In January 1990, Delhi High Court designated him as a Senior Advocate.He was appointed Additional Solicitor General by the V. P. Singh government in 1989 and did the paperwork for the investigations into the Bofors scandal.His clients cover the political spectrum from Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal to Madhavrao Scindia of the Indian National Congress to L. K. Advani of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He has authored several publications on legal and current affairs. He has presented a paper on law relating to corruption and crime in India before the Indo-British Legal Forum. He was a delegate on behalf of the Government of India to the United Nations General Assembly Session in June 1998 where the Declaration on Laws Relating to Drugs and Money Laundering was approved.
Jaitley has also appeared on behalf of giant multinational corporations such as PepsiCo against and Coca Cola and in various other cases in India.After having been the Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs, Jaitley represented Pepsi in 2002 in a case where the Supreme Court of India admonished and imposed stiff fines on 8 companies for painting advertisements on ecologically fragile rocks along the Manali-Rohtang road in the Himalayas. “The companies were also issued show-cause notices as to why exemplary damages should not be imposed on them for indulging in environmental vandalism.”In 2004, Jaitley appeared on behalf of Coca Cola in a Rajasthan High Court case.
He has stopped practising law since June 2009.
Jaitley with Prime Minister Modi and the three heads of the military staff
Jaitley has been a member of the national executive of Bharatiya Janata Party since 1991.He became the spokesperson of the BJP during the period preceding the 1999 general election. In 1999, After the Vajpayee Government of the BJP led National Democratic Alliance came to power, he was appointed Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting (Independent Charge) on 13 October 1999. He was also appointed Minister of State for Disinvestment (Independent Charge), a new ministry created for the first time to give effect to the policy of disinvestments under the World Trade Organisation regime. He took over the additional charge of the Ministry of Law, Justice and Company Affairs on 23 July 2000 following the resignation of Ram Jethmalani as the Union Cabinet Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs.
He was elevated to a Cabinet Minister in November 2000 and was made simultaneously the Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs and Shipping. He was the first Minister of Shipping following the bifurcation of the Ministry of Surface Transport. He demitted the office of the Minister for Shipping with effect from 1 September 2001 and as Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs on 1 July 2002 to join as a General Secretary of the BJP and its national spokesman. He worked in this capacity till January 2003. He rejoined the Union Cabinet as the Minister of Commerce & Industry and Law & Justice on 29 January 2003. With the defeat of the National Democratic Alliance in May 2004, Jaitley returned to serving the BJP as a general secretary, and back to his legal career.
He was chosen as the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha on 3 June 2009 by L.K. Advani. On 16 June 2009 he resigned from the post of General Secretary of BJP as per his party’s One Man One Post principle. He is also a member of the Central Election Committee of the party. In his capacity as the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, he played a vital role during the talks of the Women Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha and also supported Anna Hazare for the Jan Lokpal Bill.He successfully introduced the eighty-fourth amendment to the Constitution of India in 2002 freezing parliamentary seats until 2026 and the ninety-first amendment to the Constitution of India in 2004 penalising defections.However, being in the party since 1980 he never contested any direct election until 2014. He was the BJP candidate for the Amritsar seat in the Lok Sabha (replacing Navjot Singh Sidhu) for the 2014 general election, but lost to the Indian National Congress candidate Amarinder Singh. He is currently a Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat.
On 26 May 2014, Jaitley was selected by newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be the Minister of Finance (which includes the Ministry of Corporate Affairs) and Minister of Defence in his cabinet.Analysts cited Jaitley’s “part-time” focus on defence as a simple continuation of the policies of the previous government. According to a WikiLeaks cable by Robert Blake, the Charge at the US Embassy, to his government, when pressed on the question of Hindutva, Jaitley had argued that Hindu nationalism “will always be a talking point” for the BJP and characterized this as an opportunistic issue. Jaitely later clarified that “the use of the word opportunistic in reference to nationalism or Hindu nationalism is neither my view nor my language. It could be the diplomat’s own usage.”
He also serves as a member to the Board of Governors of Asian Development Bank.
Role as strategic planner of BJP
As general secretary of the BJP, Jaitely has managed 8 Assembly elections as of May 2008.
Jaitley with Former Supreme Court Judge K.S. Panicker Radhakrishnan at the Gujarat National Law University.
In 2002, Jaitley helped Narendra Modi, win the Gujarat Assembly elections, winning 126 out of 182 seats. In 2003, Jaitley managed the assembly elections for the BJP in the state of Madhya Pradesh. He along with Uma Bharti, won the election. Jaitley was specifically put in charge of Karnataka, which went to polls simultaneously with the Lok Sabha in May 2004. The BJP won 18 out of 26 Lok Sabha Seats in the state and emerged as the single largest party in the Assembly, capturing 83 seats, as opposed to the Congress’ 68 and the Janata Dal’s 59.
In 2005, after the February elections resulted in a hung verdict, re-elections were held in November in the state of Bihar. This election was fought by the BJP in a coalition with the JD(U). He was the chief strategist of the NDA. The BJP, ended up winning an all-time high of 58 seats and with the JD(U)’s 88 seats were able to form the government. Nitish Kumar of the JD(U) was instated as Chief Minister and the BJP’s Sushil Kumar Modi was installed as Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar.
In February 2007, Jaitley managed the BJP’s campaign in Punjab and coordinated a strategy between the party and its ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal. Out of the 23 seats the party contested, it won 19. Late in 2007, Jaitley was appointed as the general secretary in-charge of elections to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD). Of the 272 member Corporation, the BJP won 184 wards. In December 2007, Jaitley orchestrated the campaign to return the incumbent Chief Minister Narendra Modi back to power. The BJP won 117 seats out of the 182 seats. Narendra Modi had specifically asked the party high command to depute Jaitley in Gujarat.
In May 2008, Jaitley oversaw the election campaign in Karnataka. In the 224-member Assembly, the BJP won 110 seats, falling 3 short of a majority. Soon after, Jaitley negotiated the support of 5 independent MLAs thus taking the BJP’s strength to 115.
Arun Jaitley tabled the 2014 Union budget of India, 2015 Union budget of India and 2016 Union budget of India as the Finance Minister of India. He has also tabled a money bill Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016 and various other bills including Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2015 and Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill.
Jaitley has been married to Sangeeta Jaitley (daughter of Former J&K Finance Minister Girdhari Lal Dogra) since 24 May 1982. They have two children, a son named Rohan and a daughter named Sonali.