Great honour to be part of govt, will keep away this time: Arun Jaitley in letter to PM

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India May 29, 2019, 01.34 PM(IST)

File photo of Arun Jaitley. Photograph:( Reuters )

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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.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying he does not want to be a minister in his new government due to health reasons.

Jaitley begins his letter by saying, "It was a great honour and a learning experience for me to have been a part of the government led by you for the past five years. Even earlier, the party had blessed me with responsibilities in the first NDA government, in the party organisation and also while we were in the opposition. I could not have asked for more."

"During the last 18 months, I have had some serios health challenges... I had orally informed you I would in future, for some time, like to keep away from any responsibility," Jaitley writes further in his letter. "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 has not attended office for the last three weeks and has rarely been seen in public. He, however, has been writing blogs and tweeted on Modi's victory last week. He neither attended the Cabinet meeting called Friday that recommended dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha, nor the Saturday meeting of the BJP parliamentary party that elected Modi as its leader.

The government has, however, said that reports on Jaitley's deteriorating health are false and baseless, and that the media should avoid "rumour mongering". "Reports in a section of media regarding Union Minister Shri Arun Jaitley's health condition are false and baseless. Media is advised to stay clear of rumour mongering," government spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said in a tweet last week.

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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.

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 for 2019-20.

Jaitley had returned to India on February 9 after undergoing skin grafting. He is believed to had undergone some kind of a medical procedure again when he last month visited the US to attend the IMF-World Bank Group Spring Meetings.

Jaitley had undergone renal transplant on May 14 last year at AIIMS, New Delhi, with Goyal filling in for him at that time too. Jaitley, who had stopped attending office since early April 2018, was back in the finance ministry on August 23, 2018.

Earlier in September 2014, he underwent bariatric surgery to correct the weight he had gained because of a long-standing diabetic condition.

(With inputs from PTI)