Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday paid an emotional tribute to former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, describing him as a dear friend with whom he had traversed the long journey from their student days together and later in political life.
Addressing the Indian diaspora at the Bahrain National Stadium, Prime Minister Modi said he was tied down by responsibility due to which though he is steeped in grief, he has to carry on with his duties.
“I am a person tied down by responsibility. On one side there is Bahrain, full of enthusiasm and happiness, and on the other, my country is celebrating Janmasthami. But in that moment, within me, there is deep grief, deep pain. I am subduing that and standing in your midst.
“From my student life, the friend with whom during our social life we walked step by step, the political life we walked together, each moment of time we were connected with each other, and faced challenges together in order to make our dreams come true. And the long journey, which I spent with my friend, Arun Jaitley, former Finance and Defence Minister, today he has left us.
“I cannot imagine that I am so far away, and my friend has gone away. With deep pain, and sorrow. This August month!
“Some days ago our former foreign minister Bahen Sushmaji left us. Today my friend Arun has left us. It is a moment of dilemma, on one side I am bound by the sense of responsibility, and on the other a tale of friendship that is full of emotions…
“Today from the soil of Bahrain I offer shradhanjali (tribue) to my brother Arun, and to his family, I pray that God give them strength in this moment of sorrow.”
Earlier, in his tweets, posted from the UAE, he had said that he has lost a valued friend and that the BJP and Jaitley shared an unbreakable bond.
“BJP and Arun Jaitley ji had an unbreakable bond. As a fiery student leader, he was at the forefront of protecting our democracy during the Emergency. He became a much-liked face of our party who could articulate the party programs and ideology to a wide spectrum of society,” he tweeted.
Modi also said that he has lost a valuable friend in Jaitley. “I have lost a valued friend whom I have had the honor 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!”
Jaitley died on Saturday after a prolonged illness. He was 66.