Jaitley to resume office in 3rd week of Aug

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New Delhi, Aug 7 (PTI): Arun Jaitley, who stepped aside as finance minister in May to undergo a kidney transplant, is likely to resume office in the third week of this month, sources said.

Jaitley, 65, who stopped attending office at the beginning of April, underwent a renal transplant operation on May 14. On that day the charge of his ministry was given to Minister for Railways and Coal Piyush Goyal on an interim basis.

Sources said Jaitley is recovering well and is likely to assume the responsibilities of the finance ministry in the third week of August.

His resumption of office would not require any fresh oath as he has continued to be in the Council of Ministers of the Narendra Modi government as a minister without portfolio.

Sources said that when he is ready to resume duties, an order from the President’s office, based on the recommendation of the government, will be issued allocating the finance portfolio to him. On that day, Goyal will relinquish the portfolio and continue to run the railways and coal ministries.

Goyal chaired two meetings of the GST Council – the highest decision-making body of the new indirect tax regime. These included the one in which sanitary napkins were exempted from any tax levy, a demand which Jaitley had strongly opposed on grounds that it would harm domestic manufacturing.

Jaitley has been the finance minister since Modi government came to power in May 2014. He had also held additional charge of Ministry of Defence as well as that of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

During his over four-month-long break, he was active on social media, writing blogs on various economic and non-economic issues, like National Register for Citizens (NRC) in Assam, Emergency of over four-decades ago, No-confidence Motion in Parliament, Rafael fighter jet deal and the Goods and Services Tax.

He also participated in a couple of events like banking conclave and the first anniversary of the launch of GST through video conferencing. He even held at least one meeting with ministry officials through the same mode after the surgery.

A Rajya Sabha MP since 2000, he was re-elected to the Upper House from Uttar Pradesh in March this year. He is also the leader of the House. Jaitley had undergone a bariatric surgery soon after the BJP government came to power at the Centre in 2014. The surgery, to treat weight gain that he suffered because of a long-standing diabetic condition, was first performed at Max Hospital, but he then had to be shifted to AIIMS because of complications.

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