Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences on the death of former Union Minister Arun Jaitley this morning. PM Modi is in the UAE as part of a three-nation visit.
"Arun Jaitley Ji was a political giant, towering intellectual and legal luminary. He was an articulate leader who made a lasting contribution to India. His passing away is very saddening. Spoke to his wife Sangeeta Ji as well as son Rohan, and expressed condolences. Om Shanti," PM Modi tweeted.
PM Modi spoke with Mr Jaitley's wife and son, who insisted that he should not cut short his foreign visit, news agency ANI reported.
Mr Jaitley, one of the chief defenders of PM Modi's government, died today at 66 after battling a long illness. He had been admitted at Delhi's AIIMS hospital, and is the second high profile loss for the ruling BJP after former Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, who died on August 6.
"Full of life, blessed with wit, a great sense of humour and charisma, Arun Jaitley Ji was admired by people across all sections of society. He was multi-faceted, having impeccable knowledge about India's Constitution, history, public policy, governance and administration," PM Modi said.
"During his long political career, Arun Jaitley Ji held multiple ministerial responsibilities, which enabled him to contribute towards India's economic growth, strengthening our defence capabilities, creating people friendly laws and enhancing trade with other nations," he said.
"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.
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.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 24, 2019
"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," PM Modi said in tweets.
Mr Jaitley had been seen less and less in public over the last few months, expressing himself mostly through his blogs and messages on social media. Always among the BJP's chief troubleshooters, Mr Jaitley steered major economic legislation and also defended controversial policies for the government.
PM Modi had given Mr Jaitley charge of three ministries when he first took office in 2014 -- finance, defence and information and broadcasting.