International desk, August 24: Arun Jaitley, the former finance minister and a stalwart of the Bharatiya Janata Party, passed away on Saturday at AIIMS hospital in New Delhi. He was 66 years old.Arun Jaitley was rushed to All India Institute of Medical Sciences on August 9 after he complained of breathlessness and restlessness. He was kept under observation at the Cardio-Neuro-Centre of the hospital, however, his condition kept on deteriorating, India Today reports.
Hospital sources had said that he had been on life support since this week and was being monitored by a team of doctors.
Jaitley, 66, a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), stepped down as finance minister in January due to ill health, just months before elections that returned Modi’s Hindu nationalists to power.
“With the demise of Arun Jaitley Ji, I have lost a valued friend, whom I have had the honour of knowing for decades,” PM Modi said on Twitter. “His insight on issues and nuanced understanding of matters had very few parallels.”
Announcing Arun Jaitley’s demise, AIIMS issued a statement saying, “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 12:07 pm on August 24, 2019. Arun Jaitley was admitted in AIIMS, New Delhi on 09/08/2019 and was treated by a multidisciplinary team of senior Doctors.”
Arun Jaitley was unwell for a large part of the last two years. In 2018, Arun Jaitley underwent a kidney transplant surgery, following which he was put under isolation. Four years earlier, in 2014, Arun Jaitley underwent a bariatric surgery to address the excess weight he had gained due to diabetes.
During the Narendra Modi government’s first term in office, Arun Jaitley was seen as the prime minister’s ‘go-to’ man. Jaitley was the one to take on the responsibilities of temporarily handling ministries other than his primary portfolio of finance.
As finance minister, Arun Jaitley presented all of the Narendra Modi government 1.0’s budgets. However, due to his ill health, he was unable to present the 2019 Interim Budget, which was instead presented by his colleague Piyush Goyal.
After the Bharatiya Janata Party’s victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Arun Jaitley wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting that he not be given any responsibilities in the new government as he wanted to focus on his health.
A lawyer by profession, Arun Jaitley was among the leaders who were jailed by the Indira Gandhi government during the Emergency. He was a student leader at the time.
After being released from jail, Arun Jaitley joined active politics as a member of the Jan Sangh and rose through the ranks of the organisation, which later became the BJP.
A lawyer by profession, Arun Jaitley also served on the Atal Bihari Vajapyee cabinet. Between 2009 and 2014, when the BJP sat in the Opposition benches, Arun Jaitley served as the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.
Arun Jaitley is survived by his wife and two children.