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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

Farewell, Arun Jaitley: One of India’s tallest leaders cremated with state honours

Arun Jaitley could build bridges over the widest ideological gaps and assimilate politically divergent views, yet come up with a win-win solution.

india Updated: Aug 25, 2019 17:08 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Home minister Amit Shah pays his last respects to Arun Jaitley before his last rites at Nigambodh Ghat  in New Delhi on Sunday.
Home minister Amit Shah pays his last respects to Arun Jaitley before his last rites at Nigambodh Ghat in New Delhi on Sunday.(PTI)
         

Arun Jaitley, the BJP stalwart whose death sparked a massive outpouring of public grief in the country, was given a teary send-off with politicians across the spectrum attending his funeral held with state honours. Arun Jaitley’s son Rohan lit the funeral pyre as a 21-gun salute went off on the banks of the river Yamuna in national capital Delhi.

His body wrapped in the tricolour, Arun Jaitley was brought to Nigambodh Ghat in a flower-decked gun carriage from the BJP headquarters where thousands of people, leaders and diplomats whose lives he had touched and influenced had queued up to pay their respects.

Standing in front of the television cameras, someone called him the shining star of Indian politics, another bright spark whose death is a big loss for the nation and legal community and the third, India’s tallest leader and a dear friend.

Watch | Jaitley’s mortal remains brought to BJP office, leaders pay last respect

 

Jaitley could build bridges over the widest ideological gaps and assimilate politically divergent views, yet come up with a win-win solution.

Many of those who came for him were the BJP’s political rivals, such as Telugu Desam Party’s Chandrababu Naidu, Congress’ Kapil Sibal and Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, whose return to the NDA was made possible due to Jaitley’s influence, also attended the funeral along with other top ministers such as Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

Arun Jaitley, among the most prominent individuals in Indian public life, died at 66 at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. He had been admitted to hospital on August 9 after he complained of uneasiness. Jaitley breathed his last at 12:07 pm on Saturday, and returned home in a hearse soon after.

Also read: Arun Jaitley, a man people in UK treasured, says British High Commissioner to India

Home Minister Amit Shah cut short an official visit to Hyderabad and headed back to Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid an emotional tribute to Arun Jaitley from Bahrain, where he was as part of his three-nation visit.

“I cannot imagine that I am here so far away and my friend is gone,” PM Modi said in an emotional tribute at an Indian community event in Bahrain about the friend he had known for decades. But PM Modi, who stressed that he was bound by his duty as India’s Prime Minister, has paid tributes to Jaitley describing him as “a political giant, towering intellectual and legal luminary” and more.

Jaitley and PM Modi have been friends and party colleagues for over 40 years. Jaitley worked for Modi’s electoral victories in Gujarat and was his strongest backer as he moved from Gandhinagar to the centre-stage of the BJP and of national politics between the summers of 2013 and 2014.

First Published: Aug 25, 2019 15:29 IST