17th Lok Sabha: Arun Jaitley Unlikely To Be Part Of New Modi Cabinet
Union finance minister Arun Jaitley is unlikely to be a part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's new cabinet in the government's second term due to his ill health, people with knowledge of the matter said.
Jaitley, 66, has become "very weak" as his health has deteriorated over the past few weeks, the people said. His ill health may require him to travel to either the U.K. or the U.S. for treatment of an undisclosed illness. Jaitley has has developed some throat condition as well that prevents him from speaking for long, the people added.
He was earlier this week admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi to undergo tests and treatment for an undisclosed illness. He was discharged on Thursday but did not attend celebrations at the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters after the party's victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Jaitley is not keen to take up a ministerial position in the new Modi government, the people said, and may have conveyed to Modi his unwillingness to hold any position. Doctors have advised him to go to the U.K. or the U.S. for treatment, they said.
Jaitley, whose health has been on a decline ever since he underwent a kidney transplant in May last year, will take a call in the next few days on the issue.
He has not attended office for the last three weeks and is rarely seen in public. He, however, has been writing blogs and tweeted on Modi's victory Thursday.
He did not attend the cabinet meeting called on Friday that recommended dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha. The people said that he, however, met all the five secretaries in his ministries at his residence in what was described as a routine meeting.
A lawyer by profession, Jaitley has been the most important leader in Modi's cabinet and has often acted as the chief troubleshooter for the government.
As the finance minister, he steered brought into effect several economic legislations, including the Goods and Services Tax, which had languished for nearly two decades.
One of the most prolific voices in the Modi government and a key strategist, Jaitley did not contest the current Lok Sabha elections presumably because of his ill health.
Jaitley was a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, and when Modi came to power in 2014, he was made the finance minister and also handled briefly the additional charge of defence and information and broadcasting ministries.
He had undergone surgery in the US on January 22 for a reported soft tissue cancer in his left leg, an illness that deprived him from presenting the Modi government's sixth and final budget of its current term. Railway and coal minister Piyush Goyal was the stand-in finance minister who presented the interim budget on Feb. 1.
Jaitley had returned to India on Feb. 9 after undergoing skin grafting. He is believed to had undergone some kind of a medical procedure again when he visited the U.S. last month to attend the IMF-World Bank Group Spring Meetings.