Heavens open as India bids tearful adieu to Jaitley

The heavens opened as the mortal remains of India’s former finance minister Arun Jaitley were consigned to flames at Nigambodh Ghat on Yamuna’s riverbank around 3.10 pm on Sunday.

Jaitley’s son Rohan performed the last rites as other family members and close friends watched the proceedings amid the downpour and a 21-gun salute.

Among the dignitaries present at the cremation ground were Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, BJP veteran LK Advani, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP working president, JP Nadda, several cabinet ministers, Yoga Guru Ramdev and Congress leaders Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kapil Sibal.

Chief ministers of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Bihar and Uttarakhand were also present.

Earlier in the day, Jaitley’s mortal remains were moved to BJP headquarters from his residence in Kailash Colony, above, (President Ram Nath Kovind pays tribute – @rashtrapatibhvn Photo Credit: Twitter) for public to pay their last respects.

Top BJP leaders and Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik were among those who paid tributes to Jaitley at the central hall of the party headquarters.

Around 2pm, Jaitley’s final journey started toward Nigambodh Ghat in a flower-decked gun carriage amid chants of ‘Long live Jaitley ji’.

Paying homage to his closest aide, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said from Bahrain that he cannot imagine his friend is gone.

Over decades, he had a special bond with Jaitley who knew Modi would one day become the prime minister. When the Bharatiya Janata Party won a landslide victory in the 2014 general elections, Jaitley recommended his name for the top post.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said although Jaitley’s voice will no longer reverberate within the Parliament, his presence will be remembered.

Jaitley is the fifth leader BJP has lost in the past 12 months.

Like Jaitley, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, 93, passed away after prolonged illness at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS ), New Delhi, in August last year.

Former civil aviation minister Ananth Kumar, 59, died of lung cancer in November last year in a Bengaluru hospital.

Former defence minister Manohar Parrikar, 64, died of cancer in Goa’s capital Panaji in March this year.

Former Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, 67, passed away early this month at AIIMS after a massive cardiac arrest.

Like Jaitley, Swaraj did not contest the 2019 general elections due to ill health.