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India's ex-finance minister Jaitley dies at 66

NEW DELHI, August 24, 2019

Arun Jaitley, the former finance minister and a stalwart of the Bharatiya Janata Party, passed away on Saturday at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hospital in New Delhi. He was 66 years old.
 
Jaitley was rushed to AIIMS 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, reported PTI.
 
Hospital sources had said that he had been on life support since this week and was being monitored by a team of doctors.
 
Modi spoke to Arun Jaitley’s wife and son, and expressed his condolences. Both of them insisted that he does not cancel his current foreign tour.
 
"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," Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.
 
Jaitley, 66, a senior leader of 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," tweeted PM Modi adding. "His insight on issues and nuanced understanding of matters had very few parallels."
 
Announcing 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."
 
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.
 
Jaitley was unwell for a large part of the last two years. In 2018, he 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, Jaitley was seen as the prime minister's 'go-to' man. He was the one to take on the responsibilities of temporarily handling ministries other than his primary portfolio of finance.
 
As finance minister, 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 BJP's victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, 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.
 
Jaitley had 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.



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