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Thursday 9 July 2020

Arun Jaitley resumes charge as Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister

Arun Jaitley underwent a renal transplant on 14 May and on the same day, his ministerial charges were given to Piyush Goyal on an interim basis

New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind today re-appointed Arun Jaitley as Finance Minister after he recovered from a kidney ailment.

“The President of India, as advised by the Prime Minister, has directed to assign the portfolios of the Minister of Finance and Minister of Corporate Affairs to Arun Jaitley,” a notification said.

Union Minister Arun Jaitley is back as the Finance Minister after a three-month interval to recuperate from a kidney transplant surgery in May this year.

In Mr. Jaitley’s absence, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal was holding the additional charge of the Finance and Corporate Affairs portfolio.

However, with the economy facing some headwinds like a growing trade deficit the falling rupee — that touched 70 marks to a US dollar for the first time ever — and higher crude prices, the government has come under some sharp attack from the Opposition, especially the Congress, over the handling of the economy.

A draft report on the back series data of GDP growth that claimed UPA years saw the highest ever decadal growth added to the government’s problems

On 19 August, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram took a dig at the Modi government by claiming that three Finance Ministers — a de-facto, a de-jure and an invisible one — handle the economy yet the management is not in very competent hands.

He said that every world-renowned economist who had come to work under this government has left and “none with a worldwide reputation is willing to serve under this government.”

Mr. Jaitley, in a blog the same day, hit back. “Post 2014, when the global economy was in slowdown mode, it was India and India alone which has been the fastest growing economy in the world for the last four years and has consistently overtaken China in the growth rate,” he said.

“The UPA government compromised on all macro fundamentals. It compromised on the fiscal deficit and the Current Account Deficit, it allowed inflation to spiral out of control and more so to create an illusory growth, it compromised India’s banking system through reckless lending,” Mr. Jaitley added.

Jaitley underwent a renal transplant on 14 May and on the same day, his ministerial charges were given to Piyush Goyal on an interim basis.

Since his surgery, he has been staying in a controlled environment as per the doctors’ advice.

He, however, attended the Rajya Sabha for the election of Deputy Chairman on 9 August. This was his first public appearance since 14 May.

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, Rafale fighter jet deal and the Goods and Services Tax. He had also penned an emotional ode to mentor and former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who passed away on August 16.

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

On 9 August, Jaitley had attended Parliament for the first time since his surgery to vote in the elections for the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

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.

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