Amba Charan Vashishth
When I came to BJP’s mouthpiece ‘Kamal Sendesh’ 14 years back, some ordinary karyakartas made me understand that Shri Arun Jaitley is a very arrogant person. He doesn’t recognise people. He doesn’t accept even ‘Namaste’ from people. Later, I had the privilege of having interviewed him for the fortnightly.
Gujarat Assembly elections were round the corner and Shri Jaitley was the election incharge there. So, I needed his interview about the situation in the State and BJP’s strategy and chances in the election. I told some people that I have to interview him again for the fortnightly. I said he knows me and I will have no difficulty. But they still
In those very days, unfortunately, the senior BJP leader Shri JP Mathur died. His funeral was to take place sometime later. So Shri Jaitley along with 3-4 more BJP leaders was returning to his office at 9 Ashoka Road. Under the wrong impression instilled in my mind by others, I greeted Shri Jaitley with a “Namaskar’ to which he responded very nicely. I said, “Sir, I’m Amba Charan”. On this, he instantly said, “Why do you tell me your name? I know you well.”
I regretted believing what others had told me about him. In the course of time, impressions ingrained in me by some proved to be false. I found him very polite who encouraged karyakartas to rise.
On another occasion, I sought an appointment with him for another interview. He asked me to come the next day at 3.00 pm. As I was going to enter his office, I found Jaitleyji coming out. He said, “Sorry, I have to go to se some senior leader who had called me”.
“It’s all right”, I said, “I will come tomorrow”.
Then he asked me, “Can’t it be in the car?”
I said, “No problem. It can be done in the car also.”
“Then come”. He made me sit with him. He was so clear and at ease in replying to my questions that I got greatly proud. My more than 10 question interview was over in about 30 minutes.
In 10-15 minutes Jaitleyji disposed of 50-60 persons. As a person entered, he immediately said, “Your name is under consideration….There is much opposition to you in the area…..You’ll get the ticket…and so on.” Later, he made me put my questions. Very calmly he answered my questions. I was free in just another 15 minutes.
I am, by nature, not used to bothering senior leaders calling on them for a Namaste and no work. This was true with Jaitleyji too. I had not met him for about more than a year. Shri Jaitley was then Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha. Shri Prabhat Jha, Rajya Sabha MP, was also incharge of Literature and Publication Cell while I was the National Convener of this Cell. Shri Jha once met him. Shri Jaitleyji was so kind to enquire about me from Shri Jha. I was just a small fry. Jhaji told him that I was very much there in ‘Kamal Sandesh’ and the Cell. Jhaji told me of Shri Jaitley enquiring about me.
Jaitelyji had a multi-faceted personality. He was to-the-point on every occasion. He was very clear in his opinion. He had no time whiling away his time for nothing. He was articulate and brief. His answers to questions in interviews and while addressing press conferences were quick and sharp. Never did he ask me to change a word or sentence from the interview he gave. He was so sharp and clear in his mind that whatever he said once was not to be changed.
Shri Jaitleyji was a priceless jewel in politics, a par excellent lawyer, a lover of sports and cricket, an exceptional orator and chum of the media. His void will be felt by politicians, media, legal fraternity and the common karyakarta like me.
(The writer was National Convenor of BJP’s Publication Cell)