Amidst an outpour of grief and glowing tributes, India’s former Finance Minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley was cremated on Sunday with full state honours in the presence of leaders from across the political spectrum and scores of his admirers and party workers.
Jaitley's son Rohan performed the last rites. The 66-year-old BJP stalwart passed away at the AIIMS here on Saturday after battling multi-organ failure, a fortnight after he was admitted at the hospital with complaints of uneasiness.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, BJP veteran L K Advani, party president and Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, party's working president J P Nadda, federal cabinet ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Smriti Irani and Anurag Thakur, Congress leaders Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kapil Sibal were among those present at the cremation ground.
Chief ministers of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Bihar and Uttarakhand, Devendra Fadnavis, Vijay Rupani, B S Yediyurappa, Nitish Kumar and Trivendra Singh Rawat, respectively, were also there.
Earlier in the day, his body was taken to the BJP headquarters from where it was carried in a flower-decked gun carriage to the cremation ground on the bank of the Yamuna river amidst slogans of 'Jaitley ji amar rahein' (long live Jaitley).
BJP workers and mourners queued up in large numbers outside the party headquarters since morning to pay their last respects to the leader.
BJP workers and mourners queued up in large numbers outside the party headquarters since morning to pay their last respects to Jaitley who as Finance Minister presided over two of India’s major financial sector reforms—nation-wide uniform Goods and Services Tax and Bankruptcy Code.
One of the most trusted ministers of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Jaitley was a consummate backroom strategist and troubleshooter of the BJP. As a minister, he had defended controversial government policies with utmost articulation that often won over political rivals.
Ailing for several years, Jaitley, who began his political career as a fiery student leader in Delhi University way back in early 1970s, had requested Modi to be allowed time to recuperate before taking any fresh ministerial responsibility after this year’s parliamentary elections which saw the BJP getting a second successive term in power in May.