Career timeline of Arun Jaitley, PM Modi's go-to man in New Delhi

Topics Arun Jaitley

Former Union finance minister Arun Jaitley. File photo
A senior member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Arun Jaitley was Union finance minister in the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s first term in power at the Centre. He also held the defence portfolio for a while. 

Jaitley, who had been ailing the past few years and was admitted to New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on August 9, breathed his last on August 24 at age 66. 

Adept at working the levers of power, he has been Modi’s go-to man in New Delhi since the late 1990s, before deteriorating health put an end to his four-decade-long political career. A day before the Modi 2.0 government was sworn in, Jaitley cited health issues while requesting the prime minister to let him stay out of the Cabinet. 

Here's a timeline of his political journey:

1973-1977: Arun Jaitley enters student politics, becomes Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) student leader at the Delhi University Campus; rises to become president of the Students Union in 1974. Is put under preventive detention for 19 months during the emergency. Plays an active role in Jai Prakash Narayan's anti-corruption stir. Joins Jana Sangh after release from jail.

1980: Jaitley joins BJP, is made president of party's youth wing of BJP and secretary of its Delhi unit.

Jaitley, the lawyer: 1987-2009

Practices law before the Supreme Court of India and several High Courts. Appointed Additional Solicitor General by the V P Singh government in 1989. His clients include Shrarad Yadav, Madhavrao Scindia, L K Advani and several other polticians. Given his political duties as Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, stops law practice in June 2009.


Member of BJP national executive since 1991; made spokesperson of the party before 1991 Lok Sabha polls. 

1999: Jaitley under Vajpayee govt

Appointed Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting (Independent Charge) on October 13, 1999, and Minister of State for Disinvestment (Independent Charge).

2000: Jaitley is elevated as cabinet minister; appointed Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs and Shipping. 

2002-03: Appointed General Secretary of BJP on July 1, 2002, Becomes party's national spokesperson in 2003. Goes back to legal career after BJP's defeat in 2004 polls.


Chosen as Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha in 2009 by L K Advani. Plays vital role during talks on Women Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha, supports Anna Hazare on Jan Lokpal Bill.

2014-2019: Jaitley's success and failures

Until 2014, Jaitley had never contested any direct elections. That year, he was BJP candidate in Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency, but lost to Amarinder Singh of Congress. Jaitley was selected by newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be Minister of Finance, Minister for Corporate Affairs and Minister of Defence in his cabinet. With Jaitley as FM, the Modi government was able to take several key economic decisions like demonetisation and GST. In Jaitley's stewardship, the Modi government merged the railway budget with the general Budget. Moreover, the decision to advance the date of the general budget to February 1 was also taken with Jaitley as FM. GST went under several tax-slab revisions and Jaitley maneuvered them efficiently. He also introduced Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code to resolve the issues with companies that were turning insolvent. IBC has played a key role in the corporate sector in recent times.

May 29, 2019

On May 29 2019, in a letter to Prime Minister Modi, Arun Jaitley cites poor health as a reason for not taking any active role in the formation of the new government, effectively declining a role as a minister in the second term of Prime Minister Modi. 

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