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He is a critical pivot in the Narendra Modi government. Helping the Prime Minister script change and chart the roadmap for reforms, Arun Jaitley straddles two of the most critical portfolios — defence and finance — in the Cabinet.
The de facto second-in-command in the government, Jaitley will interact with a select audience at the latest edition of Express Adda at Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai on Wednesday and perhaps throw light over the art of the impossible. He was the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha when he first dropped by for a delightfully provocative Adda in January 2012, then too in Mumbai.
A series of interactions with people at the centre of change, Adda has earlier featured actor Shah Rukh Khan, World Chess champion Viswanathan Anand, then BJP President (and now Home Minister) Rajnath Singh, Financial Times commentator Martin Wolf and Aadhaar architect Nandan Nilekani, among others.
Jaitley, 61, has his task cut out. At Raisina Hill, an unenviable task of managing the contradiction of his government’s ‘pro-business and pro-poor’ image and at home, the impossible task of not bringing defence and finance files. As finance minister, he has to restore the investment cycle and push growth to generate jobs for the millions entering the labour market, and also keep inflation at bay. In defence, he has to kickstart procurement, re-equip the forces with arms, ammunition and also boost their morale.
Jaitley was a also a Cabinet minister in the A B Vajpayee-led NDA government having held important portfolios such as law, justice and corporate affairs and commerce and industry.
He will be in conversation with The Indian Express Consulting Editor Coomi Kapoor and National Affairs Editor P Vaidyanathan Iyer.