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Relax young man, have a cup of tea: The Arun Jaitley I knew


New Delhi, Aug 24: In the midst of an argument with a food delivery agent, an extremely disturbing piece of news broke out. The former finance minister of the country and senior BJP leader, Arun Jaitley had passed away.

It took a while for me to process the news and all I kept thinking of was, how comfortable he had made me feel during an assignment in 2008. Covering crime, legal and later on internal security, politics was something new to me.

File photo of Arun Jaitley

2008 was an important year in Karnataka politics and it was in that year that the BJP was all set to form its first ever government in South India.

Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley passes away at 66

Jaitley was at the helm of affairs at that time where Karnataka was concerned. He would frequent Bengaluru several times. He was the go to man for everyone in the media as his quotes and bytes all the time ended up making headlines.

When the Karnataka elections were announced in 2008, it was big news. B S Yediyurappa had dissolved the assembly citing betrayal by the JD(S). He was going all guns blazing and there was no doubt that he was going to win the elections.

    Former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley passes away at the age of 66

    Amidst all the running around, there were also the manifesto releases that needed to be covered. I wanted to be on the top of my game and wanted to be everywhere first.

    Journalists were gradually moving towards a digital platform and had entered into the cut and paste era. This meant that carrying back to office with reams of paper, deciphering the manifesto and then typing it into the system, meant a lot of hard work.

    In 2008, the manifesto to watch out for was the one to be released by the BJP. There was no way that I was going to miss that event. I set out and owing to the notorious Bengaluru traffic, I was as usual late.

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    The event was on the first floor of a hotel and being late, I decided to put on my Usain Bolt mode and charge up the stairs. And as I reached all sweaty and huffing and puffing, I saw Jaitley sitting and speaking to another journalist.

    I went up to him huffing and puffing and said, ' sorry sir I am late. Did I miss everything?' Calm composed and suave, he replied, ' relax young man, 'sit down have a cup of tea.'

    That sounded like Beethoven to my ears and I just sat next to him and gulped down the cup of tea.

    I spoke to him for a couple of minutes, asked him what he felt about the elections etc. He sounded confident, he ridiculed the JD(S) and said that there was no doubt that the BJP was going to form the first government on its own in South India. We have a lot of plans and this is just the beginning he said as I made notes in a hurry on my Blackberry (Yes, I had predicted Digital India back then itself).

    After the conversation had ended, I asked him, 'what about the manifesto sir?' He said it is ready and asked one of the most pleasing questions. Do you want it on CD or USB. ' CD sir, I said,' feeling so happy within myself that I can copy paste tonight.

    I met with him a couple of times after that. The discussions were always around Karnataka politics and the future of the BJP in India. He always would say that BJP is the future. We have been in the Opposition Benches for too long. The party will make it big and boy didn't his predictions come absolutely right.

    When, it came to Jaitley, there was never a 'NO'. He always made the time and ensured that no journalist went back without a story.

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    Running into political assignments was never my cup of tea as I was extremely nervous and never knew how to deal with the political class. Policemen and lawyers were my cup of tea always. However that incident in 2008, changed a lot for me.

    All working professionals wait for a weekend to take time off and spend sometime with the family.

    Well this is not a week, I waited for. Miss you Arun Jaitley-28 December 1952 - 24 August 2019.

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