India's former finance minister Arun Jaitley dies at 66

India's then finance minister Arun Jaitley speaks during a panel discussion at the World Bank  IMF Annual Meetings at IMF headquarters in Washington. — AP  File

India's then finance minister Arun Jaitley speaks during a panel discussion at the World Bank IMF Annual Meetings at IMF headquarters in Washington. — AP File

In a letter to Jaitley's wife, Sangeeta, Sonia described the late former Union Minister as a person, who attracted friends across the political spectrum and fought the cruel illness with an indomitable spirit till the end.

A lawyer-turned-politician, Jaitley was also in office for the introduction of a new nationwide goods and services tax (GST), which was better received despite teething problems.

Among opposition leaders who paid their respect to Jaitley were Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, Shashi Tharoor, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Sharad Pawar and Jairam Ramesh. "A brilliant lawyer, a seasoned parliamentarian, and a distinguished minister, he contributed immensely to nation building", he tweeted.

Jaitley, who had held the finance portfolio during the first term of the Modi government, had decided not to be a part of the new Union cabinet as he was unwell and needed time for his medical treatment.

Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh has said, he was a man with a multifaceted personality and his demise was a great loss to the nation.

Congress leader Kapil Sibal attacked the BJP on Saturday, asking which of its leaders had publicly advised Narendra Modi to not demonise the opposition and its leaders.

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The PM further said, "Full of life, blessed with wit, a great sense of humour and charisma, Arun Jaitley Ji was admired by people across all sections of society".

Defence minister Rajnath Singh said: "Jaitleyji will always be remembered for pulling the economy out of the gloom and putting it back on the right track". "BJP and Arun Jaitley Ji had an unbreakable bond".

Rahul Gandhi too said that he was "sorry to hear" about his demise and offered his condolences to his family.

Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said she was "extremely saddened". He was a member of the student wing of BJP, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), and was also elected the president of Delhi University's Student Union.

Arun Jaitley was born in 1952 to Ratan Prabha and Maharaj Kishen Jaitley.

The timing for the cremation of Jaitley's body has not been decided yet, Nadda added. "He was a brilliant lawyer and parliamentarian, whom I personally admired and from whom I have derived huge learning".

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