Describing Shri Arun Jaitley as the brightest star of Central Hall, Shri Dhankhar said that he never saw him in anger or anguish. Mentioning that Shri Jaitley’s forte was debate, the Vice President said it is a befitting tribute by SRCC to name a debate competition after one of their most illustrious alumnus.
On this occasion, the Vice President also gave away the awards to the winners of the debate competition.
Smt. Sangeeta Jaitley, wife of Late Shri Arun Jaitley; Shri Ajay S. Shriram, Chairman, SRCC Governing Body; Prof Yogesh Singh, Vice Chancellor, University of Delhi; Prof. Simrit Kaur, Principal, Shri Ram College of Commerce, faculty members, students and others were present.
Following is the text of the Vice President’s speech –
This is a moment of both pride and pain for me. Pride – I have associated myself with an occasion that has Arun Jaitley ji’s name. Pain – He went too early, we miss him, his impact is felt in every walk of life, his absence is being felt all the more. There are few people of his caliber, if we go by historical perspective. As Chairman Rajya Sabha, I miss him, every day, his absence is a great loss to the nation.
I came to know Arun Jaitley ji, two years after his marriage, so Sangeetaji knew him more than I did, but our relationship was very different. He came to Rajasthan, to defend Ram Nath Goenka ji, an editor of Indian Express, I was president of the Bar in the Bar Council and at that time, I was stigmatized as the lawyer of repute in criminal jurisprudence. I still remember vividly, we interacted in corridors outside the court where we walked a gentleman Vimal Choudhary, who was president of Rajasthan University, he asked “How much do you know Arun Jaitley ji?”, I said “Go Ahead” as I was president of the bar. He narrated in rapid fire. The fiery President of DUSU from 1974-77, landed in jail for 19 months, went on to become the youngest member of the executive, the highest body of Janta Party, a milestone achievement only a few can match.
Before I was elected to Parliament, I came to Delhi and went to Arunji’s house and spent some time together, Jaitley ji asked me “Jagdeep, चुनाव लड़ोगे?” I replied that I was allergic to politics, which was a fact for a student like me who was throughout a Gold Medalist. He said “This is not proper. Why did you become High Court bar president?”. That was a turning point in my mental thought process about politics.
I was elected to Parliament in 1989, Arun Jaitley ji became the Additional Solicitor General, a very distinguished person, he admirably handled the Bofors Case in the country and outside.
Life is very complex, friends. I came to be allotted a house as a Minister and the opposite house was occupied by Arun ji. We continued our journey, and I did not leave Delhi because those who come here once, get settled here. So from 1989 onwards, I was a member of the assembly for five years.
The remarkable journey of Arun Jaitley ji started with his getting into Rajya Sabha. He was in Rajya Sabha from the beginning of this millennium till he departed for his heavenly abode. If you look at the Indian Political Spectrum, you will not find another Arun Jaitley ji, he had a number of ministerial assignments, Ministry of Defence, Finance, Corporate Affairs, Law, Information & Broadcasting, but he never had trouble with bureaucracy. He helped bureaucracy to unleash its power so that public interest service can be fully exploited in which he succeeded remarkably.
Friends, for full five years he was leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha. I interacted with Members who were with him, his political critics and he did not have any personal critics. One of his failures was that he could never make a single enemy. The height of his virtuosity was that he always respected the others point of view. I can certify it.
I was Governor in the State of West Bengal for three years and had a tough CM to face, but she was all admiration for Arun Jaitley ji..that is the kind of reputation he had earned. While Leader of the Opposition, he yielded space to the Government. The Government was always assured that with a rational mind, your point of view will be appreciated, something we miss today to the detriment of political governance.
Then Arun Jaitley ji became the leader of the house, a rare distinction, and nothing changed except his seat. One thing that changed was his humility which was all time high earlier, he added to that. He was absolutely composed while reflecting with the Judiciary, with utmost respect. The discourse which he set afloat is memorable and a guiding principle to us.
Shri Jaitley happens to be the brightest star of the Central Hall of the Political Theatre of Parliament. He was known to achieve things without making noise.
In the history of this country so far, Ladies and Gentlemen, we have had two glorious occasions for central hall. One, when India got independence, Tryst with Destiny and second, when GST was rolled out. He was spinally the architect of GST, which was the toughest task, no one could believe was attainable but he attained it. He created a mechanism that decision will be taken only with unanimity and during his time there was not a single dissent.
Arun Jaitley ji created institutions and mentored many people who got the highest positions as Law Officers, Parliamentarians, Ministers and I happen to be one of them.
Before I took up the assignment on 20th July, 2019 his health was failing. I made it a point to seek his blessings, but he asked me to wait. It was difficult for me to accede to his request but there was no option. It was at 11:30 when I was at Raj Bhawan, Kolkata, I was told that Arun ji was critical. I took the first available flight along with my wife, landed in Delhi and went to AIIMS.
In today’s scenario, there can be no more befitting tribute, by this college in particular, that one of your alumni who stood out all throughout, a debate competition has been named after him.
I am indeed privileged and honored and will ever cherish this moment with pride and pain that I too am associated with it. I am sure those who participate in this debate have a lot to learn from Arun ji.
There was an occasion when Arun ji was leader of the house and the Finance Minister. There came a moment when a Member of Parliament reflected that when I was a Minister my secretary…. Arun ji got up and said that when we serve the nation in various position, so many people confide in us, we must never reveal it we must take that and put only to our maker.
In the process, he exemplified the sublimity, the depth of human nature. There never ever was any anguish, anger in his thought process. I had the occasion to tell him that though I was lucky to be a designated senior, with the 11 years of my practice and I had always had my way in provoking the other side but you have made me fail that he would only say a smile. While I was not a member of parliament, I used to come to Delhi very occasionally as a lawyer. He would say let’s have some lunch at his favorite place Oberoi.
He was associated with sports, cricket and I am so glad that his son both in the field of law and sports, he is getting into his shoes. One thing which I missed and unfortunately that could not be fructified that other than sister Sangeeta ji other members of the family could not know us personally. Once he was arguing at the court of justice, I made a point to sit next to him and to indicate our proximity. It will ever be a matter of greatest accomplishment for me, to be at the command of this family any time and any position whatsoever.
The cruel hand of destiny has snatched one of the brightest sons of Bharat at that young age when the best for him was yet to come and it is that destiny which has brought me in the position of Chairman, Rajya Sabha while I thought of being a member. Ma’am, he would always live with us, he will always be in our thoughts, he has created that kind of a goodwill which can never perish. Those who are in command today know his worth. Some of the challenges that country is facing today have been closure to a resolution with this great son so he being around.
So ladies and gentleman, on this occasion I would not like to say more accept that while Arun ji excelled in every wok of life, his forte was debate and in the debate, he had always shown restraint, patience. He never believed in aggression, he believed in persuasion. He always believed that you understand the others point of view, give due weightage to others point of view and then deal with others point of view. I am sure this great institution is starting this at a time when Delhi University is celebrating its centenary. This is the inaugural debate, I am sure everyone will carry such kind of image about it that all the years this debating competition does full justice to the reputation to the stature and to the beliefs of Late Shri Arun Jaitley. I am thankful to the organizers, to Sangeeta ji to thought of being at this occasion. I would not mince words; it is a matter of both pride and pain for me. Thank you so much.