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With GST Feather in His Cap, Arun Jaitley Quietly Back as Chief Troubleshooter

With GST done and dusted, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is quietly back in his role as the political troubleshooter for the party and the government.

Pallavi Ghosh | CNN-News18pallavighcnnibn

Updated:August 7, 2017, 2:15 PM IST
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With GST Feather in His Cap, Arun Jaitley Quietly Back as Chief Troubleshooter
File photo of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley (PTI Photo)
New Delhi: For more than a year, he has been busy overseeing one of the biggest tax reforms in the history of Independent India, a paradigm shift which required both legal finesse and hard political bargaining.

With GST done and dusted, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is quietly back in his role as the political troubleshooter for the party and the government. It all began with a seamless coup in Bihar late last month, say sources. The preparations, however, were on for almost six months before the big announcement was made in Patna.

There was a certain understanding in the BJP that Bihar CM Nitish Kumar would not compromise on his personal clean image. In fact, the desperate attempts by top RJD leaders, including Lalu Prasad Yadav and Prem Gupta, to seek some Union minister’s help in diluting the cases against their family are said to have cast the die for the Mahagatbandhan.

Sources say the two RJD leaders had also approached Jaitley, seeking a bailout from the corruption cases. “But the FM was aware of the deep rot within the RJD and how soaked it was in corruption and benami land deals,” said a senior BJP leader.

It was at this point that Jaitley began to play an active role to help out Nitish Kumar. Sources say on the day when Nitish decided to put in his papers, Jaitley was in touch with him, carrying the PM’s and Amit shah’s message.

At a dinner hosted by SP leader Naresh Agarwal that same evening at a five star hotel in Delhi, Jaitley is said to have had a casual conversation with senior JDU leader Sharad Yadav. Yadav was hopeful of sorting things out, knowing little that at that very moment Nitish was sitting with the Bihar BJP MLAs.

Even in Kerala, where the RSS continues to be engaged in an internecine and bloody war with the Left, Jaitley’s visit to Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday was seen as a strong message to the state government. The intervention, sources, say, came at the prodding of the top RSS leadership last week where the BJP was impressed upon to up the ante.

Here again, Jaitley’s legal credentials came in handy. The CPI-M too is under scanner for deals. And many speculate about a possible presidential rule in the state should violence go out of control.

A BJP insider said Jaitley’s increased involvement in political troubleshooting is also a statement on Prime Minister’s ability to optimize deployment of resources at hand.

Jaitley’s involvement in political affairs also comes just ahead of the Karnataka Assembly polls slated next year. He enjoys good rapport with leaders in the party’s Karnataka unit. In the face of continued infighting, re-capturing Karnataka will be the next big challenge for the BJP. It is the last big state which Congress still holds, and Siddaramaiah’s defeat can choke the Congress of resources before the next general election.

Tamil Nadu, too, is the other state which is on the radar of the BJP. Amit Shah has visited the state but the critical challenge now is to get the warring factions together. BJP has made it clear that both the OPS and EPS factions will have to come together. Rajinikanth of course would be the icing on the cake. The Tamil Nadu saga too is soaked in myriad legal hassles and who could be better than Jaitley to handle it.

In Rajya Sabha, where the BJP is now the single largest party, finance minister’s way with words and Amit Shah’s winning streak and astute political sense could be the perfect blend in the House where the government still lacks majority.
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