New Delhi: Senior Congress leaders on Saturday condoled the demise of Arun Jaitley, with party chief Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh saying his contribution to public life will be remembered forever and in his death, the country has lost a great leader.
Jaitley, 66, died at 12.07pm on Saturday at AIIMS, where he was admitted on August 9. Singh described Jaitley as an eminent lawyer, excellent orator, very good administrator and outstanding parliamentarian. In his condolence message to Jaitley's wife Sangeeta, the former prime minister said, "In his death our country has lost a great leader who always worked for the betterment of society."
Sonia Gandhi expressed deep pain at the passing away of Jaitley. She said Jaitley had a long innings as a public figure and his contribution to public life will forever be remembered. In her letter to Sangeeta, she described the former Union minister as a person who attracted friends and admirers across the political spectrum and every walk of life. "His sharp intellect and ability and his communication skills were evident in every cabinet position he held, in his role as Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, and as a Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court," Sonia Gandhi wrote.
"His passing is all the more tragic because he went so young, when he had so much more to contribute to national life." Sonia Gandhi said Jaitley fought his "cruel illness with great courage, his spirit indomitable till the end". Former president Pranab Mukherjee said he had visited Jaitley a day ago and prayed for his recovery. "He was a leader with deep intellect and knowledge, and a voice of reason. He will be dearly missed. My prayers with his family, friends and admirers," he said.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet, "I am sorry to hear about Mr Arun Jaitley's passing. My condolences to his family and friends. May he rest in peace." The Congress party said, "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." Its chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, "Saddened to know about the demise of Shri Arun Jaitley. My deepest condolences to his family. An astute parliamentarian, he'll always be remembered. May his soul Rest in Peace." Ahmed Patel said the nation has a lost an articulate leader and an excellent human being.
Noted lawyer and former Union minister Kapil Sibal said he has lost an old friend and dear colleague. "Very sorry to learn that Arun Jaitley is no more. An old friend and a dear colleague will be remembered for his seminal contributions to the polity and as FM of India . As Leader of Opposition he was without match . He always stood steadfastly for his friends and for his party," Sibal said.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said, "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." Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said Jaitley's death is a great loss for the country.
"Deeply saddened by the tragic passing of my friend Delhi Univ senior Arun Jaitley. We first met when he was at DUSU and I was President of St Stephen's College Union. Despite political differences we enjoyed a healthy mutual respect and debated his Budget often in LS. A great loss for India," he tweeted. Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda also condoled the death, saying he is saddened and pained.