Maharashtra leaders pay tributes to Jaitley



Maharashtra Governor C. V. Rao led the state in paying glowing tributes to former Union Minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley, who breathed his last in a hospital in New Delhi on Saturday.

"Arun Jaitley was one of the towering statesmen, legal luminaries, brilliant parliamentarian, brilliant orator, an outstanding union minister and an asset to the nation who dominated the national political scenario for nearly three decades," Rao said.

He recalled his days when he worked as a deputy to Jaitley in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Governor Rao said that Jaitley was very supportive and articulate. He remembered how he had briefed Jaitley on issues pertaining to the creation of Telangana state.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis described Jaitley as a great student leader, crusader against Emergency, an advocate of civil rights and a strong fighter who, despite his ill health lately, used to take part in all the meetings of the party.

"He will be remembered for his contributions as minister, Leader of Opposition and rolling out the GST was an immense, herculean task which couldn't be done without a leader like Jaitley," Fadnavis said.

Union Minister for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale also expressed grief over the death of Jaitley, whom he often used to describe as his 'elder brother'. Athawale's aide said that shocked by the news, Athawale cancelled his "Janmashthami" and "Dahi-Handi" programmes and rushed to New Delhi.

Ruling ally Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray said Jaitley's demise was "a personal loss". He also said that Jaitley was a bold and fearless leader on the national political landscape.

"He was one of the leaders who always wanted relations between the Shiv Sena-BJP to be strong. He was one of the pillars of the NDA and left an indelible mark despite a short life span," Thackeray said.

State Congress President Balasaheb Thorat said he was "extremely sad to hear about Jaitley's demise" and offered condolences to his family.

Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar, who enjoyed a good rapport with Jaitley, said he was grieved to learn the news and condoled the bereaved family members.

"We have lost an astute parliamentarian, avid reader and a compassionate leader," Pawar said.

Former Chief Minister and Union Minister Prithviraj Chavan recalled Jaitley's cooperation during the passage of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill by the erstwhile UPA Government.

"Despite our political differences, he made very valuable suggestions. We lost another leader from the late A. B. Vajpayee's team and feel saddened," Chavan said.

Congress leader and former Union Minister Shatrughan Sinha described Jaitley as "an old friend and a guide to the society" whose absence will be truly missed.

"A great multitasker, taking charge of many ministries with complete ease, having tremendous administration abilities, (Jaitley) stood tall among others, a fierce leader and a warm human being," said Sinha.

Samajwadi Party state President Abu Asim Azmi, Leader of Opposition Dhananjay Munde, NCP MP Supriya Sule, Congress ex-CM Ashok Chavan and other senior leaders from across the political spectrum expressed their condolences over Jaitley's death. IANS