ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailMenu BurgerPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon SearchSite TitleTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Politics

Modi's trusted aide Jaitley dies at 66

Former Indian finance minister credited with leading historic tax reforms

India's former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley speaks with the Nikkei Asian Review in an interview in 2015. (Photo by Yuji Kuronuma)

NEW DELHI -- Arun Jaitley, former Indian finance minister and veteran leader of the country's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, died on Aug. 24 after battling serious health issues. He was 66.

Jaitley has suffered major health problems for more than a year and underwent a kidney transplant in May 2018. The former finance minister was admitted to a hospital in New Delhi on Aug. 9 after complaining of breathlessness and was being attended by a multidisciplinary team of doctors.

Jaitley, a close ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, declined to serve in any position in the BJP government's second consecutive five-year term that started in May, owing to health challenges, including diabetes.

He did not contest the April-May general elections due to poor health and went to the U.S. earlier this year on medical leave, reportedly for cancer treatment. Piyush Goyal, his Cabinet colleague, temporarily handled the Finance Ministry in Jaitley's absence and presented the interim budget in February.

In Modi's first term as prime minister, Jaitley, a lawyer-turned politician, also held the portfolios of corporate affairs and defense. As finance minister, he led the county's landmark indirect tax reforms, resulting in introduction of a Goods and Services Tax in July 2017. He was also instrumental in establishing a modern bankruptcy code.

Born Dec. 28, 1952, Jaitley became president of the Delhi University Students Union in 1974. He was taken into preventive custody when a state of emergency was imposed in India in 1975 by the Indira Gandhi government, leading to suspension of civil liberties, and spent 19 months in detention. He joined the BJP in 1980 when the party was formed.

Despite his ill health, Jaitley was active on Twitter. On the Modi government scrapping the special status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir -- a territory over which India and neighboring Pakistan have a long-standing dispute -- earlier this month, he tweeted: "The J & K history of the past seven decades shows that the journey of this separate status has been towards separatism and not integration."

"It created a separatist psyche. Pakistan was more than enthusiastic in trying to exploit the situation."

The special status to the state conferred under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution allowed it to frame many of its own laws and prohibited people from other parts of India from buying property there.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Get Unlimited access

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends June 30th

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media