Arun Jaitley opts out of Narendra Modi's new Cabinet, writes to PM-elect that he would 'like to keep away from responsibility'

A day before Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi is set to take the oath of office, the finance minister in Modi's last Cabinet, Arun Jaitley, wrote a letter to him asking to be recused from the new government citing serious health reasons.

FP Staff May 29, 2019 13:59:00 IST
Arun Jaitley opts out of Narendra Modi's new Cabinet, writes to PM-elect that he would 'like to keep away from responsibility'
  • A day before Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi is set to take the oath of office, the finance minister in Modi's last Cabinet, Arun Jaitley, wrote a letter to him asking to be recused from the new government citing serious health reasons

  • Senior BJP leaders and government officials had, in fact, said that reports on the deteriorating health of Jaitley are false and baseless, and media should stay clear of rumour mongering

  • '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 wrote in the letter

A day before Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi is set to take the oath of office, the finance minister in Modi's last Cabinet, Arun Jaitley, wrote a letter to him asking to be recused from the new government citing serious health reasons. "... Though I was able to discharge the duties assigned to me during the campaign, 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... 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 wrote in the letter which he published on Twitter on Wednesday.

Here is the full text of the letter:

Hon'ble 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 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 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 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 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 informally to support the Government or the Party.

With warm regards,

Yours sincerely.
(Arun Jaitley)

Speculation over Jaitley's health and his role in the new government have been discussed in the media heavily since the Modi-led NDA was elected for the second term with a thumping majority on 23 May.

Senior BJP leaders and government officials had, in fact, said that reports on the deteriorating health of Jaitley are false and baseless, and media should stay clear of rumour mongering. Amid speculations on the state of Jaitley's health, 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. While Jaitley remained unreachable despite several attempts, his office said he is resting at home.

Arun Jaitley opts out of Narendra Modis new Cabinet writes to PMelect that he would like to keep away from responsibility

File image of PM-elect Narendra Modi and finance minister Arun Jaitley. PTI

Sources aware of Jaitley's condition had earlier told the media that the finance minister is unlikely to be part of Modi's Cabinet in the BJP government's second term due to his health, which may require him to travel to either the UK or the US for treatment. Jaitley, 66, has become "very weak", they had said.

He was admitted to AIIMS last week to undergo tests and treatment for an undisclosed illness and was discharged on Thursday but did not attend celebrations at BJP headquarters that evening after the party's emphatic victory in general elections, PTI reported.

Jaitley's college friend and media baron Rajat Sharma took to Twitter to dispel rumours. "Everyone is discussing my friend @arunjaitley's health, some out of genuine concern and some for loose talk. Let me share with you that I met him last evening, he is recovering well and is working behind the scenes. Friends and family have convinced him to stay away from public interaction to avoid infection. I am glad he has finally agreed."

Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta tweeted that he met Jaitley Sunday afternoon and presented a copy of his book to him. After meeting him, Dasgupta tweeted, "Questions about @arunjaitley health understandable. He is recovering from a bout of chemo. But he is still in terrific form and his wit is firmly intact. Needs a little rest to get back his strength”.

Hours later Dasgupta, however, deleted the tweet and posted a series of fresh tweets along with a picture of himself with Jaitley. “Correcting earlier tweet: Questions about @arunjaitley health understandable. He is recovering from a bout of heavy medication. But he is still in terrific form and his wit is firmly intact. Needs a little rest to get back his strength. All our good wishes,” he posted on Twitter.

"Actually he is off all medication now. Just recovering his strength and working as usual. He is still meeting officials,” Dasgupta added. Meanwhile, Reserve Bank governor Shaktikanta Das Sunday called on Jaitley.

"Had a courtesy meeting with Hon'ble Union Minister @arunjaitley this evening," Das tweeted while posting a picture of the meeting. Union minister Suresh Prabhu also tweeted, "We all wish @arunjaitley a speedy recovery."

Doctors treating Jaitley have advised him to go to the UK or the US for treatment, sources told PTI. 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 past three weeks and has rarely been seen in public. He, however, has been writing blogs and tweeted on Modi's victory Thursday. He neither attended the Cabinet meeting called Friday that recommended the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha, nor the Saturday meeting of the BJP parliamentary party that elected Modi as its leader.

Sources said that he, however, met all the five secretaries in his ministries at his residence on Friday in what was described as a routine meeting. A lawyer by profession, he 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 22 January for 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 9 February after undergoing skin grafting. He is believed to have 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 14 May 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 23 August, 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 agencies

Updated Date:

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