Will newly minted Finance Minister Piyush Goyal (who completes two months in the position this week) make a better FM that Arun Jaitley, who was relegated as Minister without portfolio wef May 14, 2018, due to failing health?
In 1973, Arun Jaitley got a B.Com. (Honours) degree from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi. In 1977, he got an LL.B. degree from the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi. Jaitley was an ABVP (student wing of BJP) student leader. He was elected as the President of the Students Union of Delhi University in 1974. He was also a prominent leader of a movement against corruption launched in 1973 by Raj Narain and Jayaprakash Narayan.
During the Emergency (1975–77), he was under preventive detention for a period of 19 months. After being released from jail he joined the Jan Sangh (the predecessor to BJP).
Jaitley has been practicing law before the Supreme Court of India and several High Courts in the country since 1977. He was appointed Additional Solicitor General by the V. P. Singh government in 1989. He has stopped practising law since June, 2009.
Jaitley has been a member of the national executive of BJP since 1991. He became the BJP spokesperson of during the period preceding the 1999 general election. In 1999, when Vajpayee became PM, he was appointed Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting (Independent Charge) in October, 1999. He was also appointed Minister of State for Disinvestment (Independent Charge), a new ministry created for the first time to give effect to the policy of disinvestments under the World Trade Organisation regime.
Jaitley took over the additional charge of the Ministry of Law, Justice and Company Affairs on July 23, 2000. He was elevated to a Cabinet Minister in November 2000 and was made simultaneously the Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs and Shipping. He was the first Minister of Shipping following the bifurcation of the Ministry of Surface Transport.
He gave up the offices of Minister for Shipping and Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs in 2001-02 to join as a General Secretary of the BJP and its national spokesman. He worked in this capacity till January 2003.
Jaitley rejoined the Union Cabinet as the Minister of Commerce & Industry as well as the Minister of Law & Justice in January 2003. He was “chosen” as the Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha in June 2009. He successfully introduced the 84th amendment to the Constitution of India in 2002 which froze the parliamentary seats until 2026 and the 91st amendment in 2004, which penalised defections.
He was the BJP candidate for the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat for the 2014 Lok Sabha election, but lost to Congress candidate Captain Amarinder Singh (now the CM of Punjab state). He was made Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat in 2014 and re-elected to Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh in March 2018.
On May 26, 2014, Jaitley was selected by newly elected PM Modi to be the Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs. During his tenure as Finance Minister, the government demonetised ₹500 and ₹1000 notes, with the stated intention of curbing corruption, black money, fake currency and terrorism from November 9, 2016. Jaitley also successfully rolled out GST (one-nation-one-tax).
Piyush Goyal had a brilliant academic record – all-India 2nd rank holder Chartered Accountant and 2nd rank holder in Law in Mumbai University. His father, Late Vedprakash Goyal was Union Minister of Shipping, and the National Treasurer of the BJP for over two decades.
Goyal (the son) was a well-known investment banker and has advised top corporates on management strategy and growth. He also served on the Board of India’s largest bank, the State Bank of India as well as Bank of Baroda.
During his 34 year-long political career, he held several important positions at different levels in BJP and is in its National Executive. He has been the National Treasurer of the Party. He also headed the BJP’s Campaign Committee and oversaw the publicity and advertising campaign of the party including the social media outreach for the Lok Sabha elections of 2014.
In the Modi government, Goyal was given several Ministries: Power, Coal, Mines and New & Renewable Energy, which he handled till September 3, 2017. As Power Minister, Goyal was able to make India a power surplus nation within a few months. He increased the productivity of thermal (coal-based) power substantially, by removing bottlenecks in the supply of coal. While continuing to be the Minister for Coal, Goyal was made Minister for Railways on the same day.
On May 14, 2018, Goyal was given charge of the Ministries of Finance and Corporate Affairs. As he has had less than two months in this post, it is too early to judge him in what is (arguably) India’s second most powerful government position.
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