India’s former finance and defence minister Arun Jaitley has died in the capital, New Delhi, at the age of 66, the hospital where he was seeking treatment has announced.
Jaitely, a key member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hospital in New Delhi nearly two weeks ago after he complained of breathing difficulties.
He died at 12:07pm local time (06:37 GMT) on Saturday.
“It is with profound grief that we inform about the sad demise of Shri Arun Jaitley, honourable member of parliament and former finance minister,” AIIMS said in a statement.
“Jaitley was admitted to AIIMS, New Delhi on August 9 and was treated by a multidisciplinary team of senior doctors,” the statement added.
Jaitley held the finance portfolio in Modi’s Hindu nationalist-led government from 2014 through to this year but chose not to run in May’s general elections because of poor health.
Jaitley was a diabetic and had bariatric weight-loss surgery in 2014, received a kidney transplant in 2018 and travelled to the United States last January for unspecified medical care.
The lawyer-turned-politician also had triple heart-bypass surgery when he was 52.
During his tenure as finance minister, Jaitley led the enactment of a bankruptcy code and a national goods-and-services tax law that had languished for almost 20 years.
He also briefly served as the defence minister under Modi in 2017, as well as the law minister during former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure in 2003.
Jaitley’s urbane and articulate manner helped him win friends across party lines and industry.
He got involved in politics as a student leader in the 1970s.
As news of his death broke on Saturday, tributes from politicians, writers, celebrities and athletes poured in on Twitter.
“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,” said Modi in a series of tweets.
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!
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 24, 2019
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. pic.twitter.com/7Tk5pf9edw
— Congress (@INCIndia) August 24, 2019
Deeply saddened by the tragic passing of my friend&DelhiUniv senior @arunjaitley. We first met when he was at DUSU& I was President of StStephen’sCollegeUnion. Despite political differences we enjoyed a healthy mutual respect&debated his Budget often in LS. A great loss4India pic.twitter.com/RzxO1V6NTV
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) August 24, 2019
Pained at the passing away of #ArunJaitley ji. Apart from having served greatly in public life , he played a huge role in many players from Delhi getting an opportunity to represent India. There was a time when not many players from Delhi got a chance at the highest level ..cont
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) August 24, 2019