FM Jaitley likely to return on Jan 25; Budget on schedule: Govt officials

Finance Minster Arun Jaitley | File photo
Amidst reports that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley may not present the 2019-20 interim Budget, it is learnt he will tentatively be back in India around Republic Day and officials maintain that he will present the speech in Parliament on February 1.

Meanwhile, political leaders started wishing Jaitley, who is in the US for a medical check-up, a speedy recovery. “I am 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 per cent during this difficult period Mr Jaitley,” tweeted Congress President Rahul Gandhi.

A news website had reported in the morning that Jaitley may not present the interim Budget as he will likely undergo surgery in the US for treatment of soft tissue cancer in his thigh, a type of tumour which can metastasize to other parts of the body quickly.

Government officials have so far declined to confirm this news. However, they say he will likely be back on January 25. The Budget preparation is on schedule, they added.

The 66-year-old finance minister underwent a successful kidney transplant surgery in mid-May at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). He was on leave since April due to kidney-related problems and chest infection and took back charge of the Ministries of Finance and Corporate Affairs in late August. 

Railways Minister Piyush Goyal had held temporary charge at North Block in Jaitley’s absence.

Jaitley went on leave at a time when Budget preparations are at their business end. Though in an interview to Business Standard, Jaitley had said he would not break convention from presenting an interim Budget.

“I will go by past precedence, that in an election year, there are certain things you can present, and certain things you cannot,” he had said. It is not immediately known if Jaitley’s latest check-up is related to the latest surgery or earlier ailments or neither.

In September 2014, Jaitley underwent a bariatric surgery to treat weight gain because of a long-standing diabetic condition. The surgery was first performed at Max Hospital, but he had to be later shifted to AIIMS because of complications. He had a heart surgery several years ago. 

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