Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has been given an additional charge of the finance ministry as Arun Jaitley, who held this portfolio, undergoes treatment for soft tissue cancer in the US. Goyal’s appointment as the interim Finance Minister has taken place just a week before the Union Budget will be presented.
It’s, however, not clear whether Jaitley will be back in time to present the interim budget.
This is not the first time that Goyal has acted as the Finance Minister in Jaitley’s absence. Last year too, he held the portfolio for three months when Jaitley underwent a kidney transplant.
As reported by Janta Ka Reporter, Jaitley had left for the US earlier this month for medical treatment. A report by news agency PTI said that he underwent surgery at a hospital in New York on Tuesday adding that the veteran BJP leader has been advised at least two weeks rest by the doctors. Jaitley, who has undergone tests for soft tissue cancer, has been active on social media, writing Facebook posts and tweeting about political issues.
Jaitley’s bitter political rival and Congress President Rahul Gandhi had tweeted a heartfelt message for him after he left for the US. Gandhi had written, “I’m upset to hear Arun Jaitley Ji is not well. We fight him on a daily basis for his ideas. However, I and the Congress party send him our love and best wishes for a speedy recovery. We are with you and your family 100% during this difficult period Mr Jaitley.”
His absence on health grounds assumes significance in light of this year’s budget that he was scheduled to present in the parliament on 1 February. Although, this will be the interim budget because of the Lok Sabha polls, this could have been the last budget for him as the finance minister and his party’s government if the BJP failed to return to power after this year’s parliamentary elections.
aitley hasn’t visited abroad for nine months since undergoing a renal transplant surgery in May last year. Last year, he was scheduled to attend the 10th India-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue in London but had to cancel his visit due to his kidney ailment. In his absence, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal was given the Finance portfolio. Four years ago, the 66-year-old politician had undergone a bariatric surgery, which he reportedly took a long time to recover from it. Suffering from acute diabetes, he has not been keeping in the best of health.