Former Union Miniter 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.
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.
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.