Arun Jaitley, who as finance minister steered landmark reforms such as a nationwide goods and services tax and a bankruptcy code, passed away in All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi on Saturday. He was 66.
Jaitley was admitted to Delhi’s AIIMS on August 9 after he complained of breathlessness and restlessness. His passing away was mourned by leaders cutting across political lines.
Jaitley, a diabetic, was one of the most important leaders in the first Narendra Modi government and often its chief troubleshooter. He stepped down in January this year due to ill health before Lok Sabha elections that returned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power.
His health worsened after he underwent a kidney transplant in May last year. He had to skip the presentation of the interim budget in February 2018 when he was in hospital in the United States for cancer treatment.
He also had triple bypass heart surgery when he was 52.
Jaitley, a lawyer-turned politician, contributed in a major way to the BJP and the government for over two decades. He has been one of the most important strategists for the party.
Much before BJP president Amit Shah emerged on the national scene, Jaitley was seen as a key player in preparing the party’s strategies for the Lok Sabha and the Assembly elections. He has been in charge of states such as Gujarat since 2002, besides Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Assam and West Bengal.