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Arun Jaitley Writes to PM Modi, Requests ‘No Responsibility’ in New Cabinet to Focus on Health

Several reports of Arun Jaitley’s deteriorating health had surfaced last week but the government termed them false and baseless.

News18.com

Updated:May 29, 2019, 7:34 PM IST
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New Delhi: Former finance minister Arun Jaitley, in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, formally requested not to be given any responsibility in the upcoming cabinet owing to his deteriorating health.

“I would in future for some time like to keep away from any responsibility. This will enable me to concentrate on my health and treatment,” reads the letter by the former finance and corporate affairs minister.

Several reports of Jaitley’s ill-health surfaced last week, raising doubts over his availability for the cabinet which is due to be sworn in on Thursday. The Centre, however, on Sunday said reports of Jaitley’s deteriorating health are false and baseless, and media should stay clear of rumour mongering.

Government spokesperson Sitanshu Kar took to Twitter to clear the air. "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," he tweeted.

The outgoing finance minister was admitted to AIIMS earlier in the month to undergo tests and treatment for an undisclosed illness and was discharged on Thursday. However, he did not attend celebrations at the BJP headquarters that evening after the party's emphatic victory in general elections.

In the letter, he said, “During the last eighteen months, I have had some serious health challenges. My doctors have enabled me emerge out of most of them.”

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 Modi government's sixth and final budget of its current term. Railways and Coal minister Piyush Goyal was the stand-in finance minister who presented the interim budget for 2019-20.

The 66-year-old had returned to India on February 9 after undergoing skin grafting. He is believed to have undergone some kind of a medical procedure again when he visited the US last month to attend the IMF-World Bank Group Spring Meetings.

He had undergone renal transplant on May 14 last year at AIIMS, New Delhi, with Goyal filling in for him at that time as well. 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 his long-standing diabetic condition.

Jaitley has served in a variety of ministerial posts in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition government (1999–2004), including minister of Law, Justice, and Company Affairs and minister of Commerce and Industry. After the NDA lost power in the 2004 elections, Jaitley was appointed as the BJP’s general secretary.

He unsuccessfully ran for a seat from Punjab in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Nonetheless, following the overwhelming BJP landslide victory at the polls, he was given responsibility for three important portfolios in Modi’s cabinet: defense, finance, and corporate affairs. In addition, Jaitley switched his role in the Rajya Sabha from leader of the opposition to leader of the house. Later in 2014, however, he stepped down as minister of defense, though he subsequently held the post in 2017.

Here is the full text of Arun Jaitley’s letter to the prime minister:

Honb’le Prime Minister,

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 the responsibilities in the first NDA Government, in the Party organization and also while we were in the Opposition. I could not have asked for more.

During the last eighteen months, I have had some serious health challenges. My doctors have enabled me to emerge out of most of them. 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 the future, for some time, like to keep away from any responsibility. This will enable me to concentrate on my treatment and health. The BJP and the NDA under your leadership, have had secured a spectacular win. The new Government would be sworn in tomorrow.

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.

I would obviously have a lot of time at my disposal to undertake any work to informally to support the Government or the Party.

With warm regards,

Yours sincerely,

[ ARUN JAITLEY]

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