A day before the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi as the prime minister for the second consecutive term, his friend, trusted colleague and current finance minister Arun Jaitley made it official that due to serious health reasons he will not be part of next government at the Centre.
In a letter to Modi, Jaitley thanked the prime minister-elect and the party for giving him important responsibilities in the government, in Parliament and in the organisation since the time of Vajpayee government.
“During the last eighteen months, I have had some serious health challenges. My doctors have enabled me to emerge out of most of them. After the campaign had concluded and you were leaving for Kedarnath, I had orally informed you that even though I was able to discharge the responsibilities assigned to me during the campaign, I would in future, for some time, like to keep away from any responsibility. This will enable me to concentrate on my treatment and health. The BJP and the NDA, under your leadership, have secured a spectacular win. The new Government would be sworn in tomorrow. I am writing to you to formally request you that I should be allowed a reasonable time for myself, my treatment and my health and, therefore, not be a part of any responsibility, for the present, in the new Government. I would obviously have a lot of time at my disposal to undertake any work informally to support the Government or the Party,” Jaitley wrote in the letter.
The timing of the letter is crucial and it carries two messages — first, to put at rest all speculations around his healthand if he will be part of Modi Cabinet 2.0; second, he honourably and formally informed the prime minister-elect that he should look for a new finance minister for his next term, which begins from 30 May.
The finance ministry assumes extremely important role under Modi 2.0. During the closing rounds of campaigning for just-concluded parliamentary elections, Modi had said his first term was focused on delivering on basic needs of the people and his second term will focus on fulfilling aspirations of people — which essentially is opportunities related to job creation, greater thrust on infrastructure and putting more money in pockets of the tax-payers.
Who will be the next finance minister?
Amit Shah: Will the BJP president handover baton to someone else and join the new Modi government? He is a master strategist and is quick to respond to an emergent situation, a close confidante of Modi and organiser par excellence who has arguably been the most successful presidents of the Bharatiya Janata Party since its inception. A bio-chemistry graduate, Shah is well-versed in finance and economy. Hailing from a Gujarati business family, Shah was also a stockbroker and had a long association with cooperative banks. The party is aware of Shah’s credentials as someone who has a pulse on the economic issues in the country.
There is a widespread belief in the BJP circles, and also outside, that this time around Modi needs Shah in the government. The party needs to boost its talent poll in the government for key ministries. But this is a decision which rests with two leaders — Modi and Shah. Any third party is unlikely to have a role in decision making. The duo will weigh two things — whether it will be prudent for Shah to leave the party chief’s post at this juncture and second if Shah joins the government, which ministry would he be leading.
Piyush Goyal: Son of former union minister Ved Prakash Goyal, the Railway Minister is an investment banker and a chartered-accountant-turned politician. He made a name for himself and earned a reputation as one of the most efficient ministers in the Modi government. He handled key portfolios including Railway, Finance, Power, New and Renewable Energy and Coal. What works in Goyal’s favour is that he is familiar with the workings of the finance ministry. He temporarily held charge of the ministry when Jaitley was and was being treated (from the third week of January to mid-February 2019 and from May to August 2018).
He also presented the Interim Budget 2019 before the run-up to Lok Sabha elections.