Former Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley passed away at the AIIMS hospital in New Delhi on Saturday. Jaitley, 66, was admitted to the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) on August 9 after complaining of breathlessness and restlessness. In a brief statement, the hospital said Jaitley breathed his last at 12.07 pm.Jaitley is survived by his wife Sangeeta and two children — Rohan and Sonali. A politician at heart, Jaitley had decided to stay away from the political corridors after being diagnosed with kidney ailments and did not even contest the Lok Sabha elections this year. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c detailsKnown as a consensus builder, Jaitley, the original ‘Chanakya’ was the BJP’s man for all seasons and acted as the key strategist for the Modi government in its first term. He helmed the finance, defence, corporate affairs and information and broadcasting ministries. Born on December 28, 1952, to Ratan Prabha and Maharaj Kishen Jaitley, the senior leader made the political plunge during the Emergency years after being active in Delhi’s student politics. He graduated in commerce from Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) in 1973 and got his degree in Law four years later. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from ThursdayDuring his university years, Jaitley was a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and became the president of the Delhi University Student Union (DUSU) in 1974. Jaitley officially joined the BJP in 1980. He was appointed the Additional Solicitor General of India in 1989 by the VP Singh government and worked on the infamous Bofors scandal in 1990. Jaitley joined the government in 1999 when he was appointed the Minister of State (MoS) for Information and Broadcasting in the Atal Bihar Vajpayee’s 13-month-old government, later heading the disinvestment ministry and the commerce ministry as well. A close confidant of Prime Minister Modi since his days in Gujarat, Jaitley first joined Parliament as a member of Rajya Sabha from the state in 2000. During the 2014 elections, he unsuccessfully contested from Amritsar after which he was again inducted into the government through the Upper House. Jaitley played an instrumental role in the implementation of Modi’s various ambitious schemes and programmes after the BJP came to power in May 2014. His most important legacy involves rolling out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 2017, the biggest tax reforms after Independence. Under Jaitley’s leadership, India achieved the feat of crossing $2 trillion economy, as he hoped to take it past $5 trillion mark proposed by the Prime Minister. In his two brief stints as Defence minister, Jaitley cleared the path for ushering in a raft of long-pending reforms in the armed forces and came out with key policy initiatives with an aim to make India self-reliant in defence production. He was perhaps among the BJP bigwigs who made a smooth transition from the Atal-Advani era in the party to the one where Narendra Modi dominated, ushering in the rise of new generation leaders. A gifted raconteur whose interest spanned from politics to Bollywood to sports, his informal gatherings were always a full house as journalists, friends and politicians enjoyed his wit, sarcasm — which singed his colleagues and adversaries alike — and grasp of issues that he delivered in his ever relaxed and warm demeanour. The cremation will be held on Sunday afternoon at the Nigambodh Ghat.
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