Former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Passes Away
Former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley died on Aug. 24, due to complications following an extended period of bad health. He was 66.
Jaitley, who underwent a renal transplant in May last year, was admitted to Delhi’s AIIMS on Aug. 9. after complaining of breathlessness and restlessness. In the week since, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey have visited the hospital to enquire about his health condition.
An advocate by profession, Jaitley had been an important member of the Modi government’s first term, serving as the Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs. Twice in those five years, he was also given additional charge of the Ministry of Defence. He often acted as the chief troubleshooter of the Modi government, addressing the media on numerous issues.
On the eve of Modi’s second swearing-in, Jaitley wrote to the Prime Minister, expressing his inability to continue in government. After his renal transplant in May 2018, and further treatment in January this year, Piyush Goyal had filled in for him in the Finance Ministry. Earlier, in September 2014, Jaitley underwent a bariatric surgery to address a diabetic condition.
Jaitley entered youth politics in the years preceding the Emergency as a leader of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad in the early 1970s, and rose to be president of the Delhi University Students’ Union in 1974. When the emergency was imposed by Indira Gandhi in 1975, Jaitley was jailed for 19 months. Soon after the Bharatiya Janata Party was formed in 1980, Jaitley became the president of its youth wing and became the secretary of the Delhi unit soon after joining the party.
In 1989, Jaitley was appointed the Additional Solicitor General for the Government of India during the tenure of Prime Minister VP Singh, and was designated Senior Advocate in January 1990.
When Atal Bihari Vajpayee formed the government at the centre for the third time in 1999, Jaitley was appointed Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting. After being elevated to cabinet rank in 2000, he served in the ministries of Law and Justice and Company Affairs, Shipping, and Commerce, until 2004.
From 2009 to 2014, Jaitley served as the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, during the Manmohan Singh government’s second term.
As Finance Minister, Jaitley was pivotal in the implementation and rollout of the Goods and Services Tax in 2017. A few months before that, it was also under his tenure that the government demonetised the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes that were then in circulation.
Even after opting out of the second Modi cabinet, Jaitley continued dispensing his opinion through his personal blog and Twitter handle. On Aug. 6, in his most recent blog post, Jaitley praised Modi and Shah for achieving “the impossible” by scrapping the special status for Jammu & Kashmir under Article 370. “The Prime Minister has created history through his absolute clarity and determination,” Jaitley wrote.
Arun Jaitley is survived by his wife Sangeeta, and their two children Sonali and Rohan.