Jaitley, sixth key Cabinet face to die in last 5 years

BJP members pay tribute to Arun Jaitley (AFP Photo)

Modi 2:0 government has in less than three months of coming to power, has lost two big talents from its pool with back-to-back death of two eloquent leaders in Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley.

The BJP, however, has put the options already in place as Sushma Swaraj had declined to contest Lok Sabha polls in 2019 and before the Cabinet formation, Jaitley had in writing asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to spare him from government responsibility citing health reasons.

RIP Arun Jaitley | Former finance minister passes away at 66

But Jaitley’s loss will be a void difficult to fill. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “his insight on issues and nuanced understanding of matters had very few parallels” and hailed the leader as “political giant, towering intellectual and legal luminary.”

Apart from these two deaths this year, three other serving Cabinet ministers died between 2014 and 2018.

When a meeting of Union Cabinet will pass a condolence resolution on Jaitley’s death, it will be the fifth such resolution, the last being after Sushma’s death on August 6.

While Jaitley and Sushma died when they were no longer ministers, three Union ministers Gopinath Munde, Anil Madhav Dave and Ananth Kumar died during the earlier tenure, while they were still serving as ministers. None of them crossed the age of 70. Swaraj died at 67, Jaitley at 66, Munde at 64, Dave at 60 and Ananth Kumar at 59.

Former defence minister Manohar Parrikar, who served as chief minister of Goa was 63 when he succumbed to pancreatic cancer after battling it out for over a year. He was the defence minister between 2014 and 2017 and a three-term chief minister of Goa, his which was his last assignment.

The shortest and most sudden was the death of the then-rural development minister Munde on June 3 in 2014 in a road accident in the national capital soon after the government came to power. He could remain Union minister just for a weak, taking its oath on May 26 and breathing his last on June 3. He was the second most prominent face of BJP for Maharashtra after Nitin Gadkari and was often considered as future chief minister of the state.

After attending a meeting of Union Cabinet, Munde was on way to board a flight to Mumbai to attend his victory celebration in his Parliamentary constituency Beed. He died of shock within seconds after a car rammed into his vehicle on the road.

Anil Madhav Dave, a leader from Madhya Pradesh who was the environment minister, died of cardiac arrest on May 18 in 2017. The 60-year-old Dave passed away in his sleep at his home and which came to light when his staff tried to wake him up.

Ananth Kumar (59), a prominent politician from Karnataka who was the Chemicals and fertilisers minister died, battling lung cancer on November 12, 2018. He was one of the few ministers in the new dispensation, who had served in the NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee as well. So were Jaitley and Sushma.

Apart from Union Ministers, death has snatched many talented MPs from the BJP in last five years including BJP MP from Alwar Mahant Chandnath, and its actor-turned-politician Vinod Khanna, MP from Gurdaspur who died in 2017, both battling cancer.

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