Arun Jaitley opts out of Modi govt, cites health as reason

After days of speculations, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday confirmed that he would not be a part of the Narendra Modi-led government this time.

In a letter to Modi, Jaitley spoke about the health challenges that he is facing and referred to the oral communication that he had with the Prime Minister after the campaign in this regard. Though he was able to discharge the responsibilities assigned during the campaign, he would like to take a break, he said. “I would in future, for some time, like to keep away from any responsibility. This will enable me to concentrate on my treatment and health,” he added.

He further said: “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 part of any responsibility, for the present, in the new government.”

He assured that he would obviously have a lot of time at his disposal to undertake any work informally to support the government or the party.

Earlier, sources had revealed that Jaitley, 66, was unlikely take up any offer to continue in the top job as his health has deteriorated over the past few months. Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept the Lok Sabha election 2019 with a historic mandate of about 300 out of 542 parliamentary seats that were contested, results announced by the Election Commission of India (ECI) on May 23 showed.

On Monday, the government had dismissed reports about his health condition as ‘false and baseless’. BJP leaders asked the media to avoid “rumour mongering”.

The last one-and-a-half years have been very challenging for Jaitley. After a bariatric surgery in 2014, his health was okay till April 2018. However, after that, he stopped coming to the office due to a renal problem and underwent a kidney transplant on May 14, 2018. After a gap of four months, he resumed duty as Finance Minister on August 23, 2018. Again, early this year, he went to the US for a surgery and came back during the second week of February. On both the occasions, Piyush Goyal was given charge of the Finance Ministry and he also presented the interim Budget.

Modi calls on Jaitley

Late the evening, Modi met Jaitley at his residence. Though it is not clear what transpired in the meeting, it is believed that Modi asked Jaitley to reconsider his decision.