Arun Jaitley is a thoroughly misunderstood political figure. BJP detractors consider him a shark and a high-level power broker while a section of BJP supporters consider him an elitist and a misfit in BJP. Some even go as far as calling him Congress’ man in the BJP. But the reality is very different. Arun Jaitley is a brilliant man, an articulate speaker, and a great individual. He played an important role in taking BJP to new heights. He was in charge of Gujarat BJP when Narendra Modi was chief minister of the state, and there he developed a great relationship with him. During the Gujarat 2002 riots, while many people within the BJP wanted then CM Modi to be sacked for not holding up to “Rajdharma”, Arun Jaitley stood firmly beside him. He was among the first to support the idea of projecting Narendra Modi as a Prime Ministerial candidate for the 2014 general election. He was given the charge of the most important ministries from Finance to Defense in the NDA government. His achievements as the Finance Minister and Minister of Corporate Affairs are incomparable to any other previous minister, because during his tenure of four years, the fundamental reforms in the economy’s GDP growth have been much better than any other previous regime.
He was instrumental in bringing GST, the single indirect tax regime which was stuck for almost a decade due to lack of political willpower in the Congress party. He brought finance ministers of all states of India to the negotiation table to give the final shape to GST. He listened to queries of the state regarding GST and provided a comprehensive solution to those, unlike the previous Congress regime which showed no flexibility to bring states on board with the idea. The bold decision of demonetization which helped the country to formalize its economy and crack down on black money transactions was implemented under his guidance. Indian economy was slowing down when he took over, and within few months he brought the economic growth of the country back on track.
The biggest structural problem for business opportunities in the country was that despite being a capitalist regime we did not have strong laws to ensure that loss-making companies exit from the market. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) was implemented to solve this problem and ensure a quick exit for loss-making units. The Non Performing Assets (NPA) problem which was a byproduct of “exit less capitalism” is being solved through the successful implementation of the IBC, and the public sector banks which were the largest lenders of NPAs are getting their money back. The real estate sector was in a complete mess with property prices in Mumbai comparable to that of New York’s. Billions of dollars of black money were being pumped into real estate by corrupt businessmen to evade taxes. The Finance Ministry under the leadership of Arun Jaitley brought RERA to solve the mess in real estate. Now with property prices stabilizing, it could be said that the act is transforming the real estate sector.
The achievements of Jaitley also include tax net increase which almost doubled under his tenure. The macroeconomic stability of the country is in very good condition with low inflation and fiscal deficit well within the target. Ease of doing business ranking of the country is at an all time best, and the Indian market is being hailed as the best investment destination in the world by global investors. Global institutions like the IMF, World Bank are praising the country as the fastest growing major economy in the world. Arun Jaitley deserves to be lauded for his efforts for bringing about macroeconomic stability in the Indian economy and making it the fastest growing major economy in the world despite personal health related problems.