India ‘s former finance and defence minister Arun Jaitley has died in the capital, New Delhi, at the age of 66, the hospital where he was seeking treatment has announced.
Jaitely, a key member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ‘s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP ), was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hospital in New Delhi nearly two weeks ago after he complained of breathing difficulties.
He died at 12:07 pm local time (06:37 GMT) on Saturday.
“It is with profound grief that we inform about the sad demise of Shri Arun Jaitley, honourable member of parliament and former finance minister,” AIIMS said in a statement.
“Jaitley was admitted to AIIMS, New Delhi on August 9 and was treated by a multidiscplinary team of senior doctors,” the statement added.
Jaitley held the finance portfolio in Modi’s Hindu nationalist-led government from 2014 through this year, but chose not to run in May’s general elections because of poor health.
Jaitley was diabetic and had bariatric – weight-loss surgery – in 2014, received a kidney transplant in 2018 and travelled to the United States last January for unspecified medical care.
The lawyer-turned-politician also had triple heart bypass surgery when he was 52.
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.
He also briefly served as the defence minister under Modi in 2017, as well as the law minister during former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure in 2003.
Jaitley’s urbane and articulate manner helped him win friends across party lines and industry.
He got involved in politics as a student leader in the 1970s. ‘Political giant’
As news of his death broke on Saturday, tributes from politicians, writers, celebrities and athletes poured in on Twitter.
“Arun Jaitley Ji was a political giant, towering intellectual and legal luminary. He was an articulate leader who made a lasting contribution to India. His passing away is very saddening,” said Modi in a series of tweets.