Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. (Photo: PTI) 

Narendra Modi Meets Arun Jaitley After Decision To Opt Out Of New Government

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday met union finance minister Arun Jaitley, hours after he announced his decision to opt out of the new government due to his health issues. Modi drove to Jaitley's official residence in New Delhi and was with him for sometime, officials said.

The deliberations of the Modi-Jaitley meeting were not immediately known.

Neither Jaitley, who had tweeted his letter written to Modi that he does not want to have any responsibility in the new government, nor his office offered comment.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his council of ministers would be sworn in at Rashtrapati Bhawan on Thursday evening.

"I am writing to you to formally request you that I should be allowed a reasonable time for myself, my treatment and my health and therefore, not be a part of any responsibility, for the present, in the new government," Jaitley said in the letter.

Sources said the prime minister acknowledged receipt of Jaitley's letter and also appreciated his contribution towards economy and implementation of goods and services tax.

However, it was not immediately known if Modi acceded to Jaitley's request.

In his letter to Modi, Jaitley said that during the last 18 months, he has had "some serious" health challenges and would want to keep away from any responsibility for "sometime" to concentrate on treatment.

"After the campaign had concluded and you were leaving for Kedarnath, I had orally informed you that even though I was able to discharge the responsibilities assigned to me during the campaign, I would in future, for sometime, like to keep away from any responsibility. This will enable me to concentrate on my treatment and health," he wrote.

A lawyer by profession, Jaitley has been the most important leader in the Modi Cabinet and has often acted as the chief troubleshooter for the government.

As finance minister, Jaitley steered through Parliament major economic legislations, including GST which had languished for nearly two decades.

Jaitley, 66, has also played key role in getting through several other lawsm such as the triple talaq bill also defended the government on the Rafale fighter jet deal.

Last week, the finance minister was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi to undergo tests and treatment for an undisclosed illness and was discharged on Thursday—the day election results were announced.

He did not attend celebrations at Bharatiya Janata Party‘s headquarters that evening after the party's emphatic victory. The BJP won 303 out of the 542 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Jaitley underwent a 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 in his absence and also presented the interim budget for 2019-20 on his behalf.

Bloomberg Quint

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