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Published On: Wed, Jan 16th, 2019

FM Arun Jaitley: Unlikely to present interim budget,Flies To US For Treatment

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jeitely-16NEW DELHI : Finance minister Arun Jaitley is unlikely to be in the capital to present the government’s interim budget – its last before the Lok Sabha elections – on February 1 as he has developed another serious ailment for which he will likely undergo surgery in the United States.

Jaitley has already left for New York for treatment of soft tissue cancer in his thigh, a type of tumour which can spread to other parts of the body quickly. Sources said the decision to undergo surgery was a complicated one because Jaitley had undergone a kidney transplant last year. Any fresh surgery, accompanied by chemotherapy, would be a strain on the kidneys, which are still in the process of being accepted by his body.
Officially, the finance minister has said he is going on personal leave for two weeks to New York.                People with knowledge of the matter said that there was a possibility that the hospital would be unable to conduct the required surgery and discharge him quickly, given all the pre-existing complications post the kidney transplant.
In that case, it is unclear who will make the budget announcements in the absence of Jaitley. Last year, when he was on leave for his kidney transplant, railways and coal minister Piyush Goyal had assumed interim charge of the finance ministry.The Modi government is gearing up for what could be a crucial vote-on-account. It is reportedly planning important pre-election measures such as a universal income transfer scheme for farmers on the lines of  Rythu Bandhu in Telangana.
There is also talk of interest-free bank loans to small farmers with the government bearing the interest burden and raising the exemption limit for income tax-payers. The 66-year-old is in the US for a “regular medical check-up” following a kidney transplant last year,
Congress president Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet that he was “upset” to hear about the minister’s poor health. “I’m 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% during this difficult period Mr Jaitley,” Mr Gandhi said.
Finance Ministry sources said the minister “is expected to be back by the weekend” and no one else would be given charge of the ministry for now. Questions have been raised because the Budget – it will be an interim budget with the national election ahead – is scheduled for February 1.
Power Minister Piyush Goyal, who was given additional charge of the finance ministry while Mr Jaitley was on a three-month hiatus for his kidney surgery, avoided a response today when Newstrack  asked him who would present the interim budget.
Even on Tuesday, before reports of his US visit emerged, Mr Jaitley had put out a Facebook post criticizing opposition moves to form a coalition against the ruling BJP and said that an “unworkable alliance with maverick leadership whose longevity is a suspect” cannot lead the country to economic growth like a government with a “clear mandate as in 2014”.After Mr Jaitley returned to his ministry in August, he had limited public interaction for weeks in order to ward off any infection.(With Agency Inputs ).


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