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‘Irreparable loss to nation’: PM, President, other leaders pay homage to BJP stalwart Arun Jaitley

Immediately after the news of the leader’s demise, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Arun Jaitley’s wife and son and expressed his condolences.

Sheji S Edathara | New Delhi |

Former Finance Minister and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley, who has been undergoing treatment at Delhi, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), died at 66 after a prolonged illness on Saturday.

The AIIMS in a statement said, “It is with profound grief that we inform about the sad demise of Shri Arun Jaitley. Honourable Member of Parliament and former finance minister, government of India at 12:07 pm on 24 August, 2019. Shri Arun Jaitley was admitted in AIIMS, New Delhi on 09/08/2019 and was treated by a multidisciplinary team of senior doctors”.

Leaders across party lines had visited AIIMS in the previous weeks to enquire about the former minister’s health.

Immediately after the news of the leader’s demise, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Arun Jaitley’s wife and son and expressed his condolences. The family insisted that the PM must not cancel his current foreign tour.

PM Modi is on a three-nation tour and is currently in UAE for a bilateral meet.

Modi also tweeted condolences saying that he has “lost a valued friend”.

“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!” PM tweeted.

President Ram Nath Kovind expressed his grief over the demise of the BJP leader and remembered his contributions towards nation-building.

Offering his condolences, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said Jaitley will always be “remembered for pulling the economy out of the gloom”.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Amit Shah has cut short his visit to Hyderabad and is returning to Delhi following the passing away of Jaitley.

Shah said he was deeply pained by the demise of Arun Jaitley. “It is like a personal loss for me. I have not only lost a senior party leader but also an important family member who will forever be a guiding light for me.”

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, who was to leave from Chennai for Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, has cut short his visit and is returning to Delhi following the demise of former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Naidu said Jaitley’s death is an “irreparable loss to the nation and a personal loss to him”.

“I am deeply shocked to learn about the demise of Shri Arun Jaitley, a long-time dear friend and one of my closest associates. His death is an irreparable loss to the nation and a personal loss to me. I have no words to express my grief,” he tweeted.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman paid rich tributes to her predecessor Arun Jaitley, describing him as a mentor with matchless astuteness.

The Congress expressed its sadness over the death of the senior BJP leader.

“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,” the party said on its Twitter handle.

Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal paid respects to the BJP leader saying that Arun Jaitley will be remembered for his “seminal contributions to the polity and as FM of India”.

Sibal also shared an old picture of his moments with Jaitley on a cricket field.

“Deeply saddened to know of untimely demise of former Union minister and senior BJP leader, Sh Arun Jaitley. My heartfelt condolences to his family members. May God give them strength. May his soul rest in peace (sic),” Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot tweeted.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote, “Untimely demise of former FM and senior leader Sh Arun Jaitley ji is a huge loss to 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.”

Aam Aadmi Party leader Manish Sisodia also tweeted condolences for the late leader.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das expressed sadness over the demise of the former Finance Minister.

“Saddened by Jaitley ji’s demise, BJP family has lost one of its integral members today. I pray to the almighty to give peace to the departed soul and give strength to his family at this time of grief,” he said in a tweet in Hindi.

Meanwhile, all programmes of the Jharkhand CM scheduled for today and tomorrow, have been postponed in view of Jaitley’s demise.

The Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana also mourned the death of the BJP stalwart.

Jaitley, who was admitted to the AIIMS on August 9, has been in the hospital’s ICU since then as he was in a critical condition.

A lawyer by profession, Jaitley had been an important part in Narendra Modi’s Cabinet during his first tenure as prime minister. He held the finance and defence portfolios, and often acted as the chief troubleshooter of the government.

Jaitley did not contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections presumably because of his ill-health.

After the BJP’s victory in the national election, Jaitley had written to PM Modi that he would “not be part of any responsibility, for the present, in the new government” because of his health.

Arun Jaitley has been suffering from multiple health conditions, including diabetes and high blood pressure.

Earlier this year, Jaitley underwent treatment for soft cell sarcoma, a type of cancer that affects soft tissues of the body, including fat, muscles and blood vessels.