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Who is Arun Jaitley: The rise of India's newest finance minister

Thursday, 10 July 2014 - 12:40pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna webdesk

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Rising with a speed at which we would be proud to see our GDP increase, Arun Jaitley, currently the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Defence of the Union Cabinet of India, has a great story behind his stature. From being a student body president, a youth leader and the vice-president of the BCCI to presenting the budget today, here is a sneak peak into his journey:

Jaitley was born on December 28, 1952 to lawyer Maharaj Kishen Jaitley and social activist Ratan Prabha in New Delhi. Having studied in prestigious institutions like St Xavier’s School (1957-69), Shree Ram College of Commerce, Jaitley finally did his LL B from the University of Delhi from 1973-77. 

An active debater since his childhood, he was also the president of the student union of his college. This marked the beginning of what was to be a bright political career. At a time when the Congress’s rule was very strong, by winning the election as an Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) candidate (ABVP is the BJP's student wing), he made a never-ending impact on the people of India. He considered Jai Prakash Narain his mentor. In 1975, when the emergency was declared for 22 months, Jaitley was one of the leaders to be detained and was imprisoned for 19 months in Tihar Jail in Delhi.

In 1977, being the convener of the Loktantric Yuva Morcha at a time when the Congress suffered a humiliating 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 started practicing law from 1977 onwards in the Supreme Court and several High Courts.

On May 24, 1982 Arun tied the knot with Sangeeta. The two have been happily married for 32 years, and have two children, a son, Rohan, and a daughter, Sonali, both of whom are lawyers.

In 1990, Jaitley was promoted to senior advocate and was appointed Additional Solicitor General (ASG) of India. As the Additional Solicitor General, he worked on the Bofors scandal, which was related to the illegal kickbacks paid in the US$ 1.3 billion deal between Bofors, a Swedish arms manufacturer, and the Government of India.

He became the spokesperson for the BJP in 1999 just before the General Assembly elections. He took over as the Minister of State, Department of Information and Broadcasting in 1999. Additionally, he headed the Ministry of Law, Justice and Company Affairs. He further joined the Council of Ministers as the Minister of State, and along with this, he was in charge of the newly formed Department of Disinvestment.

In 2000, Jaitley was made the member of the Rajya Sabha for the first time from Gujarat, and was again appointed the Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs and the head of the Ministry of Shipping. After the resignation of Ramjeth Malani as the Union Cabinet Minister, he was appointed the Cabinet Minister in November 2000. He was the Law Minister in the cabinet and introduced many amendments to the Civil Procedure Code, the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), and the Companies Act.

He then left the cabinet to become the General Secretary of the BJP in July 2002, and worked as the National Spokesperson till January 2003.

Jaitley again joined the Union Cabinet in 2003 as the Minister of Commerce and Industry and Law and Justice, and functioned there till May 2004. He was re-elected as the member of the Rajya Sabha in 2006 and again in 2012 from Gujarat, which was his third term as a member of the Rajya Sabha. He is recognised as the Leader of Opposition (2009-2012) and has put in constant efforts to bring about positive change. 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.

Jaitley was appointed the vice president of the BCCI from North Zone because of his love for the game of cricket, but he resigned in June 2013 when the IPL match-fixing scandal unfolded.

On May 26, 2014, Arun Jaitley became the Finance Minister with additional charge of Defence Ministry in the new Narendra Modi-led government.

For live updates of the Union Budget, read here

Also Read: Narendra Modi government's maiden Budget: Here's a list of proposals made by Arun Jaitley

For complete coverage on the Union Budget, visit our Budget 2014 page

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