New Delhi, Sep 27 (PTI) Veteran BJP leader L K Advani on Sunday described Jaswant Singh as one of his closest colleagues and a dear friend, and said he was an 'outstanding parliamentarian, astute diplomat, great administrator, and above all, a patriot'.
Jaswant Singh died here on Sunday following a long spell of illness. He was 82.
In a statement, Advani said as a member of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government, Singh singularly and deftly handled the three most important portfolios of external affairs, defence and finance.
He noted that a 'very special bond was formed between Atal ji, Jaswant ji and myself' while handling tenacious issues during those six years (1998-2004) in power.
Expressing grief over the demise of Singh, Advani said he was at a loss of words.
'As a person, Jaswant ji was a true gentleman and will be remembered as a soft-spoken, erudite and warm-hearted person. He was known for his sharp, analytical mind and was respected by people across the political spectrum,' Advani said.
Singh became one of the tallest leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and contributed greatly throughout his active years in the party, he said.
Advani (92) remains the longest serving president of the BJP.
Noting that Singh was also a great lover of books like him, the veteran BJP leader said they often shared notes about this common interest.
'I cherish my long association with him in public life and the bond shared between our families... His passing away is a huge loss to the nation and personally to me. May his soul rest in peace,' Advani said.
Advani was instrumental in bringing Jaswant Singh back into the party's fold after he was expelled in 2009 for authoring a book that had words of praise for Pakistan's founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other top BJP leaders paid rich tributes to Singh, saying that he served India diligently and will be remembered for his unique perspective on matters of politics and society.
PTI KR SRY