A day ahead of the swearing-in of PM Narendra Modi for his second term in office, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has written to the Prime Minister-elect opting out of being entrusted with formal responsibilities in the next government, citing his health.
In his letter to the Prime Minister, Jaitley, who has held multiple portfolios in the NDA governments led by both Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi, including key ministries such as Finance and Defence in the latter, said that he will take time to focus on his health and therefore will not be a part of the new government. However, he assured that he would informally undertake any work to support the Modi government or the BJP.
"It was a great honour and 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 doctor has 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 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 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."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be sworn in at 7 pm on Thursday.
One of the senior-most leaders of the BJP, Arun Jaitley has held the Finance Ministry for almost the entire last five years, apart from two spells when he travelled abroad for treatment during which time Piyush Goyal discharged his responsibilities. He is the chairman of the GST council and it was under his ministership that India's biggest indirect-tax reform - the historic Goods and Services Tax - was rolled out. He is also the incumbent Minister of Corporate Affairs. He had also served as Minister of Defence and Minister of Information and Broadcasting in the Modi government, before which he was the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. In the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government he served as Minister of Law and Justice.