Former Finance Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley died at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences on Saturday, ANI reported. He died at 12.07 pm, according to a press release issued by AIIMS.

Jaitley, 66, had been admitted to the hospital on August 9. Several national leaders including President Ram Nath Kovind, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, veteran BJP leader LK Advani, ministers Smriti Irani, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and others had visited him in hospital. AIIMS had not issued a bulletin on Jaitley’s health after August 10.

Jaitley’s body was taken to his Kailash Colony home from AIIMS. On Sunday morning, it will be taken to the BJP headquarters. He will be cremated on Sunday afternoon at the Nigambodh Ghat, party leader Sudhanshu Mittal told PTI.

Several leaders, including President Ram Nath Kovind, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP veteran Lal Krishna Advani and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, on Saturday offered floral tributes to Jaitley at his Kailash Colony residence in South Delhi, ANI reported.

A number of Delhi BJP leaders, East Delhi MP Gautam Gambhir and party workers also paid homage to the senior party leader.

Jaitley was the finance minister in the Narendra Modi-led government from 2014 to 2019, and briefly held the defence portfolio in 2017. He was unable to present the Union Budget in February 2019 as he was away in the United States for treatment of a form of cancer. He underwent a kidney transplant surgery in 2018.

After the Narendra Modi-led government returned to power in May, Jaitley told Modi he would not be part of the new government. Jaitley said he had faced some “serious health challenges” in the last 18 months.

Arun Jaitley was leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha from 2009 to 2014. In Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government between 1999 and 2004, he held multiple cabinet portfolios including commerce, and law and justice.

He was often the BJP’s spokesperson during major events and crises, including the air strikes on Balakot in February. During his term as finance minister, Jaitley piloted multiple legislations including the massive demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax exercises.

He studied law and was a senior advocate until he stopped practising in 2009 due to his political duties. As a student, he was a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.

‘Asset to the government’

Several leaders both from the BJP and Opposition parties expressed their condolences after Jaitley died. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, “Arun Jaitley ji served the nation in several capacities and he was an asset to the government and the party organisation. He always had a deep and clear understanding of the issues of the day.”

Congress leaders Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy tweeted their tributes as well.

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