Arun Jaitley, former Finance Minister and the chief trouble-shooter of the BJP, has died at Delhi’s AIIMS hospital, two weeks after he was admitted following complaints of breathlessness. He was 66.
In a brief statement, the hospital said Arun Jaitley died at 12.07 pm.
“It is with profound grief that we inform about the sad demise of Shri Arun Jaitley… Shri Arun Jaitley was admitted in AIIMS, New Delhi on 09/08/2019 and was treated by a multidisciplinary team of senior doctors,” said AIIMS in a statement.
The veteran BJP leader, who was brought in to the hospital on August 9, had been put on life support and was being monitored by a multidisciplinary team of doctors.
Senior leaders including Smriti Irani and Hardeep Singh Puri have reached AIIMS. Mr Jaitley’s body will be taken to his home soon and the funeral will be held tomorrow. Before the funeral at Nigambodh Ghat, Mr Jaitley’s body will be kept at the BJP office till 2 pm.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in the UAE, said Mr Jaitley was a “political giant, towering intellectual and legal luminary.”
“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,” PM Modi tweeted.
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!
Home Minister Amit Shah said Arun Jaitley had guided him for years. “Deeply saddened by Arun Jaitley’s death. His death is a personal loss for me. I have not just lost a senior party colleague but also a member of my family, who guided me for several years,” Mr Shah tweeted.
Mr Jaitley’s long-time colleague and senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh said he will always be remembered for “pulling the economy out of the gloom and putting it back on the right track.”
Nirmala Sitharaman, who succeeded Mr Jaitley as the Finance Minister, said Mr Jaitley’s “intelligence, sagacity, astuteness have no match.”
Arun Jaitley did not contest the 2019 general elections due to ill-health
Mr Jaitley’s urbane and articulate manner had helped him win friends across party lines and industry.
President Kovind, PM Modi, Amit Shah along with political leaders like Mayawati, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Nitish Kumar and Yogi Adityanath had visited Mr Jaitley in hospital.
Mr Jaitley, a lawyer by profession, had been an important part in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet in the BJP government’s first term. He held the finance and defence portfolios, and often acted as the chief troubleshooter of the government. During his tenure as finance minister, Arun Jaitley led the enactment of a bankruptcy code and the Goods and Services Tax or GST.
Mr Jaitley did not contest the 2019 Lok Sabha election presumably because of his ill-health. Arun Jaitley also had to skip the presentation of the interim budget in February when he was in hospital in the United States for treatment. The lawyer-turned-politician also had triple heart bypass surgery when he was 52.
He had undergone a kidney transplant on May 14 last year at AIIMS with Railways Minister Piyush Goyal filling in for him in the finance ministry at that time.
Mr Jaitley, who had stopped attending office since early April last year, was back in the finance ministry on August 23, 2018.
In September 2014, he underwent bariatric surgery to correct the weight he had gained because of a long-standing diabetic condition.