BJP stalwart Arun Jaitley’s death marks an end of ‘Delhi-4’ era, a high-profile group of four second-line leaders who effectively ran the show from 2004 till 2014.
Besides Mr Jaitley, it included Venkaiah Naidu, Sushma Swaraj and Ananth Kumar — all proteges of party patriarch LK Advani.
Mr Jaitley’s death on Saturday was yet another jolt to the party after the death of former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj earlier this month.
Ananth Kumar died in November last year and with Mr Naidu no more in active politics after his election as Vice President, it is curtains for the most sought after group of leaders of Vajpayee-Advani era in the party.
The four gained prominence on the national scene during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government from 1999-2004, when they were made part of the Union Cabinet. But it was Pramod Mahajan who was the first among equals and had ears of both Vajpayee and Advani.
With Pramod Mahajan’s death in 2006 and Mr Vajpayee taking a back seat from active politics, Mr Advani remained the tallest leader in the party with these four leaders firmly standing behind him.
The term Delhi-4 was coined for them during this period, as they all were based in the national capital and had influence on party’s every decision.
With every passing year, their clout started rising in the party and so did their differences. But the towering presence of Mr Advani kept them together.
It changed after the party’s second successive defeat in 2009 Lok Sabha polls, which forced its ideological parent RSS to press upon the BJP to look beyond Mr Advani as the party’s face. As a result, Ms Swaraj was made the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha and Mr Jaitley in Rajya Sabha.
Thereafter, Mr Jaitley opted for a different road and started throwing his weight behind Narendra Modi, the then Gujarat chief minister and his long time friend, as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.
After Mr Modi’s victory in 2012 Gujarat assembly polls, Mr Jaitley openly came out in support of his candidature for the top post. Later Venkaiah Naidu also joined Mr Jaitley and backed Mr Modi, though a section of party leaders had reservations on sidelining of LK Advani
After the party’s victory in the 2014 general elections, all four were given Cabinet berths but it was Mr Jaitley who emerged more stronger and influential owing to his proximity to PM Modi, and was also given key portfolios of Finance and Defence.
Within a span of few years of Modi government and the party’s successive victory in assembly polls under its new president Amit Shah, it was Shah-Modi duo who called the shots.
Mr Naidu was elected the Vice President in August 2017. Though Mr Jaitley still remained part of Modi’s core group, other leaders of D-4 were confined to their ministerial responsibilities.
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