New Delhi: In his first public engagement after returning from the G7 Summit in Paris, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday morning visited former Finance minister Arun Jaitley's family at his Kailash Colony residence here.
Jaitley passed away on Saturday, when the PM was in the UAE. From the UAE, he made a stopover at Bahrain and then flew to Paris to attend the G7 Summit. PM Modi spoke to Jaitley's family over telephone immediately after his demise and he was reportedly requested to carry on with his pre-scheduled events.
After arriving in the national capital on Monday night, Modi on Tuesday morning visited Jaitley's residence, where he offered floral tributes at his late friend's photograph. Dressed in a white kurta, he later sat with the bereaved family members, speechless for quite a while. The silence were interrupted by brief conversations and nodding.
BJP President Amit Shah and party General Secretary (Organisation) B.L. Santosh were also present on the occasion.
Both the PM and Jaitley shared a long-standing relationship. Long before Jaitley joined the Union Cabinet in the last NDA regime, he worked closely with Modi for his re-election as Gujarat chief minister. BJP insiders say, many of the campaign slogans for Modi as CM came from Jaitley.
Expectedly then, PM Modi became emotional while speaking about Jaitley. While addressing the Indian community in Bahrain, he said: "I can't imagine that I am so far here while my friend has gone away. Some days ago, we lost our former Foreign minister Behen Sushmaji. Today my friend Arun went away."
Both Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj's death has left a void in the BJP. But the loss is bigger for PM Modi, who shared a close bond with both. Speaking to the Indian community after Jaitley's death, Modi couldn't hide his emotions. "At a time when people are celebrating Janmashtami, I am mourning the death of my friend Arun," he said.
Taking to Twitter, PM Modi wrote: "My friend Arun Jaitley loved India, loved his party and loved being among people. It is upsetting and unbelievable that a person I have known since our youth is no longer in our midst."
Jaitley was ill for a long time. He had undergone a renal transplant at AIIMS Delhi on May 14. Earlier in September 2014, he underwent a bariatric surgery.