National

Didn’t Learn Driving But Could Detail Even 60’s Movie Scene: How Jaitley’s Lawyer-friend Remembers Him

New Delhi: Former finance minister and the BJP’s ‘go to’ man Arun Jaitley did not know how to drive.

On a morning in 2005, when Jaitley suffered a heart stroke during a walk in New Delhi’s Lodhi Gardens, it was his friend and well-known lawyer Ranjit Kumar who drove him to a hospital nearby. Kumar had to drive mostly in the wrong lane given the exigency. And Jaitley was saved.

“I am going to miss his friendship the most. He was a man who never lost his cool and was always there when you needed him,” Kumar, a former Solicitor General, told CNN-News18.

Kumar recalled the first time he met Jaitley. “It was in 1974 when I was in the first year of my graduation at Hindu College and he was contesting for the post of the president of the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU). I was canvassing for him,” he said.

Kumar said Jaitley had a dynamic personality. “You meet him once and you will be in his awe. He had so many admirable qualities that you would always want to be around him. So that you keep learning…keep growing as a person,” he added.

Kumar and Jaitley walked together in the Lodhi Gardens every morning from 1999 to 2014.

“Those were great times. We will keep chatting, cracking jokes. Mr Jaitley had an elephantine memory. And we all were envious of that. If he would describe a song or a scene from a movie in 1960s, it would be with every minute detail,” he said.

When Kumar became the Solicitor General of India in June 2014, Jaitley had just one piece of advice for him: “Never lose your composure.”

Jaitley, Kumar said, had always advised him that a man should never lose his composure since that would not help him in anyway.

“I never saw him get angry or lose his cool in the last four decades I have known him — one lesson he taught everyone who came close to him. And he practised it himself till his last breath,” Kumar recalled.

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