NEW DELHI: Interim finance minister Piyush Goyal on Sunday hinted that Union minister Arun Jaitley who has returned from the US on Saturday may resume charge of the finance ministry soon.
“I have got this opportunity to address you because I have the temporary charge of the finance ministry. It is a matter of happiness that Arun Jaitley has returned yesterday evening in good health. I spoke to him yesterday and told him that can I excuse myself from this event. He said, ‘No, because you have agreed for this event, you have to go’," Goyal said at the foundation day event of Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Ltd, which prints currency notes and mints coins.
A finance ministry official, however, said under condition of anonymity that Jaitley is unlikely to resume office during the current session of Parliament which ends on Wednesday. “Piyush Goyal will reply to the debate on the interim budget in Parliament," he added.
It is also unclear who will address the board meeting of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) scheduled for 18 February in New Delhi. It is customary for the finance minister to address the boards of RBI and the Securities and Exchange Board of India after presentation of the budget wherein RBI members often place their queries on the budget before the finance minister and other ministry officials.
On Saturday, Jaitley tweeted: “Delighted to be back home".
Soon after, Goyal tweeted: “Delighted to welcome back respected Shri @arunjaitley ji. Very grateful to him for his support, guidance and leadership."
Railways and coal minister Goyal was assigned the additional charge of finance ministry on 23 January, while the budget preparation was in full swing, as Jaitley flew to the US for medical consultation. Last year too, Goyal was temporarily given charge of finance while Jaitley underwent kidney transplant at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi.
Jaitley was designated “as minister without portfolio during the period of his indisposition or till such time he is able to resume his work as minister of finance and minister of corporate affairs", a statement from the President’s office had said.
However, Jaitley interacted with the media through video conferencing from the US after Goyal presented the budget. He also continued to share his thoughts from the US on a range of issues including the Rafale fighter jet deal, death of former defence minister George Fernandes, investigations by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the ICICI Bank case, selection process of the new CBI chief and coalition of opposition parties. On Sunday, Jaitley wrote a blog titled “Institutions Under Attack-The Latest Fabrication", calling the allegation one of several “fake campaigns".