The Hitavada Delhi Bureau and Agencies
GLOOM descended upon the country at noon as towering statesman and former Union Minister Arun Jaitley succumbed to his long-drawn illness at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), leaving behind a grieving family and mourning nation that is still smarting under near-sudden loss of the iconic Sushma Swaraj a few days ago. Even though his health was deteriorating continuously after he was admitted to the AIIMS a few days ago, the 66-year-old Arun Jaitley, described variously as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trouble-shooter, key strategist of the Bharatiya Janata Party, and a man of all seasons, was also considered a fighter and the people hoped for his recovery.
Defying all those emotional expectations, Jaitley breathed his last a few minutes past Saturday noon, proving right the ominous word from the hospital to his family that he might not have been left with much time. Jaitley’s wife Sangeeta and some other members of the family were by Jaitley’s side when the end came. They emerged from the hospital some time after Jaitley was declared having passed away, and proceeded to his South Delhi residence where a milling crowd of countless people waited to express grief. Several public personalities including President Ram Nath Kovind and Union Ministers and leaders of political parties, visited the Jaitley residence to pay their respects. In a brief statement, the hospital said Jaitley breathed his last at 12.07 pm.
He was admitted to the hospital on August 9. Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu cut short his visit to Nellore in South India and returned to the capital. Away on his three-nation tour, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his deep grief saying that he had lost his “valued friend”. Union Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan represented the Prime Minister to pay respects to the mortal remains of Arun Jaitley at the hospital. Meanwhile, leaders cutting across political lines, BJP workers and his admirers visited Jaitley’s residence to pay tributes.
Union Ministers Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Nirmala Sitharaman, Piyush Goyal, Harsh Vardhan, Jitendra Singh and S Jaishankar; veteran BJP leader L K Advani and party Working President J P Nadda were among those who paid the last respects to Jaitley. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ahmed Patel, Digvijay Singh, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Rajeev Shukla; Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and his son Chirag Paswan also offered their last respects. Arvind Kejriwal, Yogi Adityanath, Naveen Patnaik and Kamal Nath were among the several Chief Ministers who paid homage to Jaitley. Former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s foster daughter, Namita Kaul, also laid a wreath on Jaitley’s body.
Late BJP leader Sushma Swaraj’s daughter, Bansuri Swaraj, also visited Jaitley’s residence. Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal were also present at the former Finance Minister’s residence. A number of Delhi BJP leaders, party MPs Gautam Gambhir, Rajyavardhan Rathore, Meenakshi Lekhi, Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma paid tributes to Jaitley. “We both fought students’ union election in the Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC). He became president and I became the secretary,” BJP leader Vijay Goel said. “Since then, I have shared a great relationship with him.” Verma said, Jaitley’s demise was a massive loss to the nation. “We will continue to follow the path he showed, the West Delhi MP said.
Jaitley to be cremated today
NEW DELHI : FORMER Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who passed away at AIIMS in Delhi on Saturday, will be cremated at the Nigam Bodh Ghat here on Sunday, party sources said. “Jaitley’s body will reach the BJP office at 10 am on Sunday and thereafter cremation will take place at the Nigam Bodh Ghat at 2 pm,” a party official said. Jaitley was admitted at AIIMS since August 9 and had undergone dialysis on Thursday. He passed away on Saturday after prolonged illness.