With the death of Arun Jaitley, BJP loses another leader too soon

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on August 24, 2019

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) flags   -  The Hindu

With the passing of Arun Jaitley (66), the BJP has lost one of its most articulate and visible public faces. However, the last two years will perhaps go down in the party’s history as an unusual phase where it suffered the loss of some of its biggest leaders.

From its tallest leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee (94), who passed away in August 2018, the BJP has lost some of its best and brightest in their 60’s.

The setbacks began with the death of Manohar Parrikar (64), Union Defence Minister and Goa Chief Minister after battling cancer. Parrikar, who handled the defence portfolio during the Rafale deal and Uri surgical strike, was a popular Chief Minister of Goa. He passed away in 2019.

Ananth Kumar (59), 6 times MP from Bengaluru and former Civil Aviation Minister, passed away in 2018. The tall, lanky leader helped build the party in Karnataka, and represented it at the Centre with key ministerial positions.

In between, George Fernandes (88), former Defence Minister, in the Vajpayee government passed away in January 2019, after a prolonged fight with Parkinson’s disease. George Fernandes was the Railway Minister in Morarji Desai’s government, when became very close to Vajpayee. He was a confidante of Vajpayee and among the few who knew of Pokhran-II tests in 1998.

Twin setbacks

In August 2019, the BJP lost two bright stars — Arun Jaitley (66) and Sushma Swaraj (67).

Jaitley, a Union Leader of Delhi University from ABVP, who was jailed during emergency, held key portfolios of Finance, Defence and was the biggest strength for the Narendra Modi government during 2014-19.

Sushma Swaraj, who passed away early August, was a firebrand in the Parliament. She was a powerful public speaker, and the most prominent woman leader the BJP produced.

Stretching the history a bit further, the shocking death of Pramod Mahajan, who was shot by his brother in May 2006 in Mumbai at the age of 56, could be the beginning of the BJP’s ‘curse’ of losing bright leaders early.

All of these leaders were visible, public faces, and some were not from the RSS, but rose tall and strong to dominate the party, and represent it best in the public.

With this sudden ‘huge vacuum’, the top leadership of the BJP have a tough and challenging times ahead indeed.

Published on August 24, 2019

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