PM Modi meets Arun Jaitley, offers him minister without portfolio profile: Sources
Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered Arun Jaitley a minister without portfolio profile after meeting the Finance Minister at his official residence in New Delhi on Tuesday night, sources said. Modi had met Jaitley to reconsider his earlier decision and remain in the government, according to the sources.
On Wednesday, Jaitley wrote to Modi saying he did not want to be a minister in his new government due to health reasons. Ending days of speculations over his role in the new government owing to his ill health, he posted on Twitter the letter he wrote to Modi requesting recusal from being a part of the new government on health grounds.
Jaitley said soon after BJP won a massive majority in the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections, he informed Modi orally about his intentions of taking time out for treatment of an undisclosed illness.
Without disclosing the ailment he is being treated for, Jaitley said he would continue to informally support the government and the party in any form that is required.
"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.
Jaitley, 66, was admitted to AIIMS last week to undergo tests and treatment for an undisclosed illness and was discharged on Thursday - the day results of Lok Sabha elections were announced.
He however did not attend celebrations at BJP headquarters that evening after the party's emphatic victory. The BJP won a landslide 303 seats, of the 542, in the general elections.
In the letter, Jaitley said during the last 18 months, he has 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 sometime, like to keep away from any responsibility. This will enable me to concentrate on my treatment and health," he wrote.
Stating it was a matter of "great honour and learning experience" to have been a part of the Modi government for the last five years, Jaitley said even earlier the party had bestowed responsibility on him in the first NDA government, as also when the BJP was in the opposition.
Jaitley was the leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha from 2009 to 2014.
"I could not have asked for more," Jaitley wrote. 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.
While as a finance minister he steered through Parliament major economic legislations such as GST-- which had languished for nearly two decades.
He has also played key role in getting through several other laws such as the bill to ban the Muslim instant divorce practice known as 'triple talaq' and also articulately defended the Rafale fighter jet deal.
One of the most prolific voices in the Modi government and a key strategist, Jaitley did not contest the recent Lok Sabha elections presumably because of his ill health.
He lost his first parliamentary election from Amritsar in 2014. Suave and articulate, he has been the party's spokesperson for many years. He entered Parliament at the age of 47 when he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat, where Modi was the chief minister.
Jaitley was a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and when Modi swept to power in 2014, he was made the finance minister and also handled briefly the additional charge of defence and information and broadcasting ministries.
He 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 who presented the interim budget for 2019-20.
Jaitley returned to India on February 9 after undergoing skin grafting. He is believed to have undergone some kind of medical procedure again when he visited the US last month to attend the IMF-World Bank Group Spring Meetings.
Jaitley had a 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 PTI inputs)