New Delhi: The government on Sunday said reports on the deteriorating health of outgoing finance minister Arun Jaitley are false and baseless, and that the media should avoid “rumour mongering”.
Amid speculation on the state of Jaitley’s health, government spokesperson Sitanshu Kar took to Twitter to clear the air:
Reports in a section of media regarding Union Minister Shri Arun Jaitley’s health condition are false and baseless. Media is advised to stay clear of rumour mongering.
— Sitanshu Kar (@DG_PIB) May 26, 2019
While Jaitley remained unreachable despite several attempts, his office said he is resting at home.
Sources aware of his condition had on Friday told Reuters that Jaitley is unlikely to be part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet in the BJP government’s second term due to his ill health, which may require him to travel to either the UK or the US for treatment.
Jaitley, 66, has become “very weak”, they had said.
He was admitted to AIIMS last week to undergo tests and treatment for an undisclosed illness and was discharged on Thursday but did not attend celebrations at BJP headquarters that evening after the party’s emphatic victory in general elections.
Jaitley’s college friend and media baron Rajat Sharma too took to Twitter to dispel rumours. “Everyone is discussing my friend @arunjaitley’s health, some out of genuine concern and some for loose talk. Let me share with you that I met him last evening, he is recovering well and is working behind the scenes. Friends and family have convinced him to stay away from public interaction to avoid infection. I am glad he has finally agreed.”
Doctors treating him have advised him to go to the UK or the US for treatment, sources said.
Jaitley, whose health has been on a decline ever since he underwent a kidney transplant in May last year, will take a call in the next few days on the issue.
He has not attended office for the last three weeks and has rarely been seen in public. He, however, has been writing blogs and tweeted on Modi’s victory Thursday.
He neither attended the Cabinet meeting called Friday that recommended dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha, nor the Saturday meeting of the BJP parliamentary party that elected Modi as its leader.
Sources said that he, however, met all the five secretaries in his ministries at his residence on Friday in what was described as a routine meeting.
A lawyer by profession, he has been the most important leader in Modi’s Cabinet and has often acted as the chief troubleshooter for the government.
He had undergone surgery in the US on January 22 for a reported soft tissue cancer in his left leg, an illness that deprived him from presenting the Modi government’s sixth and final budget of its current term. Railway and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal was the stand-in finance minister who presented the interim budget for 2019-20.
Jaitley had returned to India on February 9 after undergoing skin grafting. He is believed to had undergone some kind of a medical procedure again when he last month visited the US to attend the IMF-World Bank Group Spring Meetings.
Jaitley had undergone renal transplant on May 14 last year at AIIMS, New Delhi, with Goyal filling in for him at that time too. Jaitley, who had stopped attending office since early April 2018, was back in the finance ministry on August 23, 2018.
Earlier in September 2014, he underwent bariatric surgery to correct the weight he had gained because of a long-standing diabetic condition.