NEW DELHI: Till about five years ago, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley used to take strolls at Lodhi Garden with his friends every morning.
After taking a round or two of the park, they would sit together and chat over tea and lemonade. Ill-health and ministerial responsibilities stopped the sessions.
Left without his company, some of his friends, including senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, continued the ‘ritual’ at the same park, hoping for a miracle to happen.
They missed the times spent with the man, who was their “friend first and a big politician later”.
For his close friends, with whom he used to spend the first few hours of the day, it is “unfortunate for a great individual like him to have a string of bad luck”.
Rohatgi recollected that in the period between 1978 and 1998, his chamber was adjacent to Jaitley at the High Court.
“Our chambers in the high court used to be next to each other. We still have those chambers. In court, we used to oppose each other very often. In heat of the moment, we used to use harsh words but later sit as friends.”
Prem Grover, 74, remembered the politician for the way he valued his friendship with him. “We have had many good times together.
"After taking a walk, we all used to come and sit, had good conversations, cracked jokes, laughed together. From here, we would at times, go for breakfast together at the IIC. Every year, I organised his birthday here. Others in the park would also join the celebration.”
Grover said after Jaitley was inducted in the Cabinet, he stopped coming for the walks but would invite Lodi Garden friends to his residence.
Lalu Prasad, who has been serving this group tea and lemonade for about 15 years, observed Jaitley from far. “I just greeted him, and he was gentle.” BS Sethi, 66, remembers that Jaitley was always available for people to meet him. “They celebrated his birthday every year. We have joined them.”