Jaitley underwent surgery at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences on May 14. He had been keeping unwell since early April due to kidney-related problems and chest infection. The initial assessment by the doctors after surgery was that he would take at least eight weeks to recover.
The finance minister was discharged on June 4 and underwent post-operative recovery at his official residence under the strictest of conditions imposed by the doctors. He wasn’t meeting anyone but close family members and doctors.
He continued working and kept abreast of political and policy developments in the government though, interacting with officials through videoconferencing. In fact, the day he was discharged from the hospital, he held a meeting with Adhia, Garg, and the then Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian through videoconferencing.
Even when Subramanian’s farewell was held at Jaitley’s residence in late July, the invitees only interacted with Jaitley via television. He copiously wrote blogs on his official Facebook page on issues ranging from the Rafale deal to the National
Registry of Citizenship, from Rahul Gandhi to the achievements of the Modi government, and from GST to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.
Post-surgery, Jaitley first made an appearance through livestream on July 1 which was being celebrated as the GST day. His first public appearance came on August 10 when he attended Parliament for a day.
Jaitley comes back to North Block to deal with challenges on multiple fronts. There has been fresh political debate on growth during Manmohan Singh’s time vis-à-vis Modi, due to a report on gross domestic product back series by a government-appointed committee. There is also the matter of aid to flood-hit Kerala.
As the country heads into election in 2019, the Centre is still in the process of consolidating its flagship schemes and looking to bolster spending. These, even as there are concerns regarding sources of revenue like disinvestment, non-tax spending, and the GST.