Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a two-day visit to the UAE, on Saturday spoke to late BJP leader Arun Jaitley's family, soon after he was conveyed with the message on former finance minister's death this noon. However, the prime minister was insisted by Jaitley's wife Sangeeta Jaitley and son Rohan Jaitley not to cancel his tour and scheduled programmes in Abu Dhabi today.
The prime minister also took to Twitter and condoled Jaitley's death 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!" he wrote.
Modi is currently in UAE to discuss bilateral and regional issues with the top leadership, including Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. During his visit, Modi has also launched RuPay card to promote the Indian indigenous system of electronic payment and received the 'Order of Zayed', the highest civilian decoration conferred by the UAE government. The prime minister left for his three-nation visit to France, UAE and Bahrain on August 22 and will return after attending the G-7 Summit in France on Monday.
No sooner than the report on Jaitley's death broke out in the media, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and Union Home Minister Amit Shah cut short their programmes. Shah, at present, is on his way to Delhi from Hyderabad while Naidu will take a flight from Chennai soon. The vice president boarded a chopper to go to Andhra Pradesh's Nellore around 12.20 pm in the noon but later returned to the bay.
The untimely demise of Jaitley, a key strategist and chief trouble-shooter of the BJP, has sent shockwaves all over the country, with politicians from across party lines paying rich tributes and remembering their last time with the veteran.
Jaitley, the media-savvy leader and one of the sharpest political minds of the country, breathed his last on Saturday at the AIIMS, Delhi after battling multiple health issues for the last several months. He was admitted to the hospital on August 9.
Jaitley had undergone a renal transplant on May 14 last year at AIIMS, and his health condition gradually worsened, forcing him to take frequent breaks from his work. He opted out of the second term of the BJP-led NDA government as Modi led the saffron party to a landslide win in May this year.
A lawyer by profession, he was a key member of the first Modi government. He held the finance and defence portfolios, and often acted as the chief trouble shooter of the government.
Jaitley, who had lost the 2014 general election did not contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, because of his ill-health. He was serving his fourth straight term in Rajya Sabha, where he entered in 2000 and went on to become the Leader of the Opposition and then the House as the BJP came to power in 2014.
Jaitley had stopped attending office since early April last year, but was back in the finance ministry on August 23, 2018. In September 2014, he had undergone bariatric surgery to shed weight he had gained because of a chronic diabetic condition.