Arun Jaitley speaks at a news conference in New Delhi, India. File photo/Reuters
Arun Jaitley, the former Indian finance minister and one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s closest associates, died in hospital on Saturday, nearly two weeks after he was admitted following breathing difficulties, officials said.
Jaitley, 66, a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), stepped down as finance minister in January due to ill health, just months before elections that returned Modi’s Hindu nationalists to power.
“With the demise of Arun Jaitley Ji, I have lost a valued friend, whom I have had the honour of knowing for decades,” Modi said on Twitter. “His insight on issues and nuanced understanding of matters had very few parallels.”
Jaitley was admitted to All India Institute Medical Sciences in New Delhi on Aug.9.
A diabetic, his health had worsened after he underwent a kidney transplant in May last year. He also had to skip the presentation of the interim budget in February when he was in hospital in the United States for cancer treatment.
The lawyer-turned-politician also had triple heart bypass surgery when he was 52.
Jaitley’s urbane and articulate manner helped him win friends across party lines and industry.
The BJP lost another veteran party leader and former minister of external affairs when Sushma Swaraj died after a cardiac arrest earlier this month.
During his tenure as finance minister, Jaitley led the enactment of a bankruptcy code and a national goods and services tax law that had languished for almost 20 years.
The implementation of the GST resulted in job losses for thousands of workers in small businesses, adding to his mixed record on economic management.
The Indian economy has been under a cloud for months, with latest government estimates showing it had slowed to a five-year low of 5.8% in January-March as a result of sluggish domestic and global demand and little growth in private investment.
The 27-year-old from Mahalingapur town in the southern state of Karnataka was brought to a private hospital in a critical condition on the weekend, where doctors declared him dead and took him off a ventilator.
The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Forensic Department has submitted its report with the CBI in Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput death case and has questioned the absence of the timing of death in the autopsy report and pointed towards the dimly-lit post mortem room at Cooper Hospital, sources said.
India’s coronavirus case tally surged to 5.82 million after it recorded 86,052 new infections in the last 24 hours, data from the health ministry showed on Friday. A total of 1,141 people died of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, the ministry said,
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