India's ailing finance minister quits government

Published May 29, 2019
Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley says he would "like to keep away from any responsibility” and focus on his health and treatment. — AFP/File
Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley says he would "like to keep away from any responsibility” and focus on his health and treatment. — AFP/File

India's influential but ailing finance minister Arun Jaitley announced on Wednesday that he would not serve in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's new Hindu nationalist government because of poor health.

Modi is set to be sworn in on Thursday after winning a second landslide election and should name his new cabinet shortly after.

Jaitley, 66, a key member of the last government, said in a letter to Modi he released on Twitter that he would “like to keep away from any responsibility” so he could concentrate on his health and treatment.

Jaitley underwent a kidney transplant in May last year and in February travelled to the United States for surgery after being diagnosed with cancer.

“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,” he added in the letter.

Jaitley also hailed the “spectacular win” of Modi's right Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the six-week election that ended last week.

The BJP swept 303 of the 542 contested parliamentary seats to win a second five-year term.

A lawyer-turned-politician, Jaitley guided the government's rollout of a complex nationwide tax and often acted as a spokesman on contentious issues.

Railways minister Piyush Goyal, who stepped in for Jaitley to present an interim budget in February, and BJP president Amit Shah are in contention for Jaitley's job, media reports said.

India is the world's sixth largest economy and although it has been growing at about seven per cent a year, it is showing signs of a slowdown.

Modi, 68, has invited the heads of countries who are in the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Maritime and Economic Co-operation (BIMSTEC) to the swearing-in.

India's archrival neighbour Pakistan is not a part of the alliance and so Modi avoided inviting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Opinion

Fear and abuse
Updated 23 Jun 2021

Fear and abuse

Paedophiles and sexual abusers are present in many professions but clerical sexual abuse is of a particularly egregious character.
Diplomatic blundering
Updated 23 Jun 2021

Diplomatic blundering

Foreign policy is too serious a matter to be left to an individual’s political ambitions.
Loss of homes
22 Jun 2021

Loss of homes

For the vulnerable, a shelter is much more than a dwelling.

Editorial

PM’s views on rape
Updated 23 Jun 2021

PM’s views on rape

Rape is a crime primarily of power rather than lust, rooted in a contempt for others’ bodily integrity.
23 Jun 2021

Gas concerns

CONSUMERS face the prospect of ominous blackouts next month owing to the closure of two gas fields in Sindh, the ...
23 Jun 2021

New Iranian president

SAYYID Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s new president, is taking over at a time of great geopolitical flux, while the Islamic...
Describing OBL
22 Jun 2021

Describing OBL

FM Qureshi’s non-committal reply to question about Osama being a terrorist or a martyr has sent the wrong message to the world.
22 Jun 2021

A neglected sector

THE PTI legislators joined forces with opposition lawmakers in the National Assembly the other day to take their own...
22 Jun 2021

Air safari

THE resumption of PIA’s air safari flights to Skardu will hopefully attract international and domestic tourists,...