Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday evening turned emotional as he paid tribute to former finance minister Arun Jaitley, who passed away at the AIIMS in New Delhi earlier in the day. Jaitley died at 66 after battling multiple health issues for the last several months. He was admitted to the hospital on August 9.
“I can't imagine that I am so far here in Bahrain while my dear friend Arun has gone away. Some days ago, we lost our former defence minister Behen Sushma Ji. Today my friend Arun went away,” Modi said while addressing a massive Indian diaspora in Manama.
My friend Arun Jaitley loved India, loved his party and loved being among people.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 24, 2019
It is upsetting and unbelievable that a person I have known since our youth is no longer in our midst.
I pay my tributes to him. pic.twitter.com/lFkCXxfxqS
"At a time at a time when people are celebrating janmashtami, I am mourning the death of my friend Arun," Modi said, amid silence in the audience.
The prime minister said he was bound by his duty on one side and on one side his heart was full of emotions.
Earlier in the day, Modi described Jaitley as a "valued friends" whose insights and nuanced understanding of matters had "very few parallels" as he condoled the death of the senior BJP leader who was one of his close confidants for decades.
Modi, who was in the UAE on an official tour, said the former finance minister was full of life, blessed with wit, a great sense of humour and charisma.
Official sources said the prime minister spoke to the wife and son of Jaitley. Both of them insisted that he does not cancel his foreign tour.
In his tweets, Modi said Jaitley was admired by people across all sections of society, adding that he was multi-faceted, had impeccable knowledge about India's Constitution, history, public policy, governance and administration.
"With the demise of Arun Jaitley Ji, I have lost a valued friend, whom I have had the honour of knowing for decades. His insight on issues and nuanced understanding of matters had very few parallels. He lived well, leaving us all with innumerable happy memories. We will miss him!" he said.
Noting that Jaitley held multiple ministerial responsibilities during his long political career, he said it enabled him to contribute towards India's economic growth, strengthening our defence capabilities, creating people friendly laws and enhancing trade with other nations.
Modi also recalled his contribution to the BJP.
"BJP and Arun Jaitley Ji had an unbreakable bond. As a fiery student leader, he was at forefront of protecting our democracy during the Emergency. He became a much liked face of our Party, who could articulate the Party programmes and ideology to a wide spectrum of society," he said.