Finance Minister Arun Jaitley
Ending weeks of speculation on his health, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said he was being treated for kidney-related ailment and other health issues. He added that he was working from home. “I am being treated for kidney related problems & certain infections that I have contracted. I am therefore currently working from controlled environment at home. The future course of my treatment would be determined by the doctors treating me,” Jaitley tweeted. Sources said Jaitley would visit the All India Institute of Medical Sciences on Friday for a check-up, where the doctors treating him will take a call on whether he needs to be admitted or not. For now, he is being treated at his residence. He is said to have been receiving finance ministry secretaries and officials at his residence and clearing files from there. Jaitley has cancelled a number of public appearances this week and did not take oath after his re-election to the Rajya Sabha.
Given Jaitley’s physical absence from the finance ministry, Ministers of State for Finance Pon Radhakrishnan and Shiv Pratap Shukla will run the show.
With the Budget session of Parliament nearing its end, a bulk of work has been completed and, hence, the ministry is working on ‘auto-pilot’.
On Thursday, there was a buzz in the bureaucracy on whether some other senior minister would be given the additional charge of finance ministry if Jaitley were to be indisposed due to his health issues, or if the Prime Minister’s Office would oversee work in North Block in a more direct manner.
The last time a prime minister held the temporary additional charge of finance ministry was Manmohan Singh. For a little over a month in 2012, Singh had held the additional charge as Pranab Mukherjee had been made the President, and P Chidambaram was yet to take charge as the next finance minister.