New Delhi: Top political leaders paid rich tributes to former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who died on Saturday. The senior BJP leader died at AIIMS, where he was undergoing treatment for several weeks. He was 66.
Prime minister Narendra Modi said he has lost a valued friend, whom he had known 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!" Modi said in a series of tweets.
He said Jaitley and the BJP had an unbreakable bond. "As a fiery student leader, he was at forefront of protecting our democracy during the Emergency. He became a much liked face of our Party, who could articulate the Party programmes and ideology to a wide spectrum of society."
President Ram Nath Kovind also condoled the death and said he was extremely saddened. "A brilliant lawyer, a seasoned parliamentarian, and a distinguished Minister, he contributed immensely to nation building," he said.
"Shri Arun Jaitley possessed a unique ability of discharging the most onerous responsibility with poise, passion and studied understanding. His passing leaves a huge void in our public life and our intellectual ecosystem. Condolences to his family and associates," Kovind said.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said he was deeply shocked to learn about the demise of Jaitley, whom he described as "a long time dear friend and one of my closest associates".
"His death is an irreparable loss to the nation and a personal loss to me. I have no words to express my grief," he said. BJP chief and Union Home Minister Amit Shah said Jaitley's death was a personal loss for him.
"I am deeply saddened by the death of Arun Jaitley, Jaitley's departure is a personal loss for me. As him, I have lost not only a senior leader of the organization but also an integral member of the family whose support and guidance I have been receiving for years," Shah tweeted.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, "Jaitleyji will always be remembered for pulling the economy out of the gloom and putting it back on the right track. The BJP will miss Arunji's presence. I extend my heartfelt condolences to his bereaved family."
BJP ally and Union minister Ramvilas Paswan remembered him as one of the tallest leaders and also a fine human being. Jaitley was also a reliable troubleshooter for the BJP, he said, recalling his contribution during the first BJP-led NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The Congress 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." Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called Jaitley's demise a huge loss for the nation.
"Untimely demise of former FM and senior leader Sh Arun Jaitley ji is a huge loss to the nation. A legal luminary and an experienced political leader known for his governance skills will be missed by the country. Thoughts and prayers with his family in this moment of grief. RIP," he said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, "Extremely saddened at the passing away of Arun Jaitley Ji, after a battle bravely borne. An outstanding Parliamentarian & a brilliant lawyer, appreciated across parties. His contribution to Indian polity will be remembered. My condolences to his wife, children, friends & admirers."