The Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost its gems in former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar- all in 2019. Not just the BJP, but other parties too lost their stalwarts in 2019. The huge void left by their sad demise cannot be filled by any one. Let us take a look at these irreplaceable figures in Indian politics:
1. Arun Jaitley:
Jaitey rose as a student leader during the Emergency. A lawyer by profession, he practised law in the Supreme Court and represented L. K. Advani, Sharad Yadav and Madhavrao Scindia in court. He was at the forefront in the investigations into the Bofors scandal. In 1999, Arun Jaitley was appointed the national spokesperson of the BJP. When Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government came to power in 1999, he was made the Minister of State for Disinvestment (Independent Charge). He also took over as the Union Cabinet Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs after Ram Jethmalani resigned in 2000.
In 2009, Jaitley was chosen as the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. In 2014, it was for the first time that he fought a direct election. However, he lost from the Amritsar seat on the BJP ticket. Riding on the Modi juggernaut, BJP came to power in 2014 and Arun Jaitley served as the Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs in Modi’s cabinet.
2. Sushma Swaraj:
At the age of 25, Swaraj won from the Ambala Cantonment assembly and became a Cabinet Minister in the Janata Party government headed by the then Chief Minister Devi Lal. 2 years later, she was appointed Haryana State President of the Janata Party. She was made BJP–Lok Dal coalition government’s Education Minister during from 1987 to 1990.
She was elected as a member of the Rajya Sabha from 1990 to 1996. In 1996, she became an MP from the South Delhi constituency and was appointed the Union Cabinet Minister for Information and Broadcasting during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s 13-day government. When Vajpayee came back to power in 1998, she took an additional charge of the Ministry of Telecommunications along with Information and Broadcasting. The same year, she resigned from the Cabinet to become the first female Chief Minister of Delhi. Sushma Swaraj served as the Minister of External Affairs in Modi’s Cabinet from 2014 to 2019.
3. Manohar Parrikar:
An IIT Bombay graduate, Parrikar was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Goa in 1994. In 2000, he became the Chief Minister of Goa for the first time. He served as Goa CM from 2000 to 2005 and from 2012 to 2014, until Prime Minister Narendra Modi roped Parrikar to the Centre. He was appointed as the Minister of Defence in November 2014.
Under his tenure, the Indian Army carried out the famous surgical strike against terror launch pads in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). However, the controversy over the Rafale jet deal, initiated in September 2016, cast a shadow on his tenure. He returned as the Chief Minister of Goa in March 2017 and died in office.
4. Sheila Dikshit:
In 1984, Sheila Dikshit won from the parliamentary constituency of Kannauj in Uttar Pradesh and was chosen by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to be a part of his council of ministers. She served first as the minister of state for Parliamentary Affairs and later as a minister of state in the Prime Minister's Office.
Dikshit became the Chief Minister of Delhi after representing the Gole Market assembly constituency in 1998. The Congress leader was elected as the CM of Delhi for three consecutive terms. Serving as a CM for 15 long years, she is the longest-serving female chief minister of any Indian state.
5. George Fernandes:
Fernandes won the nickname ‘George the Giant-killer' after he defeated a Congress stalwart in Bombay in his first Lok Sabha elections in 1967. During the Emergency, although he was jailed, he fought the elections from Bihar’s Muzaffarpur constituency and won on Janata Party’s ticket. He was appointed as a minister in the first non-Congress government in India. However, he resigned and joined Charan Singh's Janata Party (S). In 1994, he formed Samata Party
He was elected to the Lok Sabha on 9 occasions. Once from Bombay in 1967, five times from Muzaffarpur- 1977, 1980, 1989, 1991, 2004 and thrice from Nalanda- 1996, 1998, 1999. Fernandes is famously known for overseeing the Kargil War in 1999 as a Defence Minister in Vajpayee’s cabinet.
6. Jaipal Reddy:
Hailing from Telangana, Reddy started his political career as a student leader. He was elected as an MLA of Kalwakurthy in Andhra Pradesh in 1969 from the Congress ticket. However, he quit the party during the emergency and joined the Janata Party. He was appointed as the general secretary of the Janata Party from 1985 to 1988. Reddy was made the Information and Broadcasting Minister under the then Prime Minister I.K.Gujral in 1997–1998.
Jaipal Reddy moved back to the Congress party in 1999. He won Miryalaguda constituency seat in Telangana and was again appointed the Information and Broadcasting Minister along with Culture during UPA-I under Manmohan Singh. In UPA-II, he became the Minister of Earth Sciences and Minister of Science and Technology.