Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and India’s former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, died at Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) today. He was 66.
“It is with profound grief that we inform about the sad demise of Shri Arun Jaitley, Hon’ble Member of Parliament and Former Finance Minister, Government of India at 12:07pm on August 24, 2019," our New Delhi correspondent reports quoting the AIIMS’ Media and Protocol Division said in a statement.
Jaitley, one of the key figures of the party, was admitted in the AIIMS on August 9 and was treated by a multidisciplinary team of senior doctors, the statement signed by the Chairperson of Media and Protocol Division said.
An ailing Jaitley had opted out of the government citing poor health when the second BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi took oath on May 30.
Jaitley has had a history of medical issues, including diabetes and kidney failure. He underwent a kidney transplant last year in May and a bariatric surgery in September 2014.
He is the second senior BJP leader after Sushma Swaraj, former Foreign Minister, to have died this month.
Jaitley, known for his intelligence, political insight, and brilliant communication skills, was among the first to realize the potential of Narendra Modi in the BJP and the two stayed together through thick and thin. After becoming the PM in 2014, Modi handed over the finance, defence and corporate affairs portfolios to Jaitley at different points of time.
He had been the Rajya Sabha member a number of times and was defeated in the directly-contested Lok Sabha polls in 2014 from Amritsar constituency in Punjab.
President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi led top political leaders paid rich tributes to Jaitley.
Modi termed Jaitley as a “political giant, a towering intellectual and a legal luminary” and said, “With the demise of Arun Jaitley Ji, I have lost a valued friend, whom I have had the honour of knowing for decades. His insight on issues and nuanced understanding of matters had very few parallels. He lived well, leaving us all with innumerable happy memories. We will miss him!”
He said in a Twitter post, “BJP and Arun Jaitley Ji had an unbreakable bond. As a fiery student leader, he was at forefront of protecting our democracy during the Emergency. He became a much-liked face of our Party, who could articulate the Party programmes and ideology to a wide spectrum of society."
“During his long political career, Arun Jaitley Ji held multiple ministerial responsibilities, which enabled him to contribute towards India’s economic growth, strengthening our defence capabilities, creating people friendly laws and enhancing trade with other nations,” Modi said.
Jaitley was full of life, blessed with wit, a great sense of humour and charisma, Arun Jaitley was admired by people across all sections of society. He was multi-faceted, having impeccable knowledge about India’s Constitution, history, public policy, governance and administration, Modi said.
“Arun Jaitley Ji was a political giant, towering intellectual and legal luminary. He was an articulate leader who made a lasting contribution to India. His passing away is very saddening. Spoke to his wife Sangeeta Ji as well as son Rohan, and expressed condolences. Om Shanti,” the Indian PM further said.
President Kovind said Jaitley “possessed a unique ability of discharging the most onerous responsibility with poise, passion and studied understanding.“
“His passing leaves a huge void in our public life and our intellectual ecosystem. Condolences to his family and associates,” Kovind tweeted.
“Extremely saddened by the passing of Shri Arun Jaitley after battling a long illness with fortitude and dignity. A brilliant lawyer, a seasoned parliamentarian, and a distinguished Minister, he contributed immensely to nation building,” he added.
BJP president and Indian Home Minister Amit Shah said, Jaitley's death was a personal loss. "I am deeply saddened by the death of Arun Jaitley, Jaitley's departure is a personal loss for me. As him, I have lost not only a senior leader of the organization but also an integral member of the family whose support and guidance I have been receiving for years," Shah tweeted.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, "Jaitleyji will always be remembered for pulling the economy out of the gloom and putting it back on the right track. The BJP will miss Arunji's presence.”
Women and Child Development minister Smriti Irani said, "A stalwart who paid tribute to his simple beginnings by helping those with meagre means. Orator par excellence, legal luminary @arunjaitley ji served the Nation and sangathan with dedication and zeal. My tributes to him. Condolences to loved ones. Om Shanti."
The Congress said, "we are deeply saddened to hear the passing of Shri Arun Jaitley. Our condolences to his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them in this time of grief."
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called Jaitley's untimely demise a huge loss for the nation. “A legal luminary and an experienced political leader known for his governance skills will be missed by the country. Thoughts and prayers with his family in this moment of grief. RIP," he tweeted.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted, "Extremely saddened at the passing away of Arun Jaitley Ji, after a battle bravely borne. An outstanding Parliamentarian & a brilliant lawyer, appreciated across parties. His contribution to Indian polity will be remembered. My condolences to his wife, children, friends and admirers.”