Finance minister Arun Jaitley is unlikely to be in the national capital to present this year’s Interim Budget on February 1 as he has developed another serious ailment for which he will likely undergo surgery in the United States, as per media reports on Wednesday. Jaitley was to present his sixth and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s last Budget on February 1 --- the last one before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Sources said the decision to undergo surgery was a complicated one because Jaitley had undergone a kidney transplant last year. Any fresh surgery, accompanied by chemotherapy, would be a strain on the kidneys, which are still in the process of being accepted by his body. Officially, the finance minister has said he is going on personal leave for two weeks to New York, as reported by The Wire.
Jaitley had already left for New York on Sunday for treatment of soft tissue cancer in his thigh, a type of a tumour which can spread to other parts of the body quickly. The finance minister had unexpectedly left for the US for a medical check-up relating to his kidney ailment, sources had said on Tuesday.
Jaitley, who had undergone a renal transplant surgery on May 14, 2018, had not travelled abroad in the past nine months. He was scheduled to attend 10th India-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue in London in April last year, but had cancelled his visit due to his kidney ailment. Sources said he left for the US on Sunday night for a medical check-up.
Though it is supposed to be an Interim Budget, it is widely expected that his speech would have been full-length Budget speech. Jaitley was admitted to AIIMS last year in early April following which he underwent dialysis. He had a renal transplant surgery on May 14, 2018. Jaitley’s post-operative recovery was being closely monitored by a team of transplant surgeons, pulmonologist, nephrologist, endocrinologist, cardiologist and critical care experts among others.
In his absence, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal was given the additional charge of Finance Ministry on May 14. Jaitley, 66, who had stopped attending office at the beginning of April, and was back in North Block - the seat of Finance Ministry - on August 23.