India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is unlikely to present the federal budget on February 1, as he has flown to the United States for cancer treatment.
Jaitley, 66, has soft tissue cancer in his thigh and this type of malignant tumor can easily spread to other parts of a patient’s body, according to a report in The Wire.
Press Trust of India report said Jaitley suddenly left for New York on Sunday night for a “regular medical check-up”.
His ailment comes as bad news for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as the general election is due by May. Jaitley was supposed to present the BJP-led government’s sixth budget in about two weeks but it seems that another minister may have to perform the job. Moreover, Jaitley was recently assigned to be the BJP’s publicity head.
This will be the last budget of the BJP government in its present tenure and is supposed to be an interim one that guides government spending for the first four months of the 2019-20 financial year, which starts in April.
It is not known if Jaitley will undergo surgery. Sources told The Wire that an operation may not happen due to the fact the minister had a kidney transplant last year, when he was away from the Finance Ministry for around 100 days.
Doctors said a new operation, along with chemotherapy, would strain his kidneys, which are allegedly still adapting to his body.
Jaitley returned as Finance Minister on August 23 last year, but had few public interactions as he was vulnerable to infections.
Jaitley has a long history of ill health. After suffering from diabetes for years, he underwent gastric bypass surgery in 2014. Complications arose post-surgery and he was readmitted to hospital three weeks after that operation, having lost up to 17 kilograms in weight, according to media reports.
In 2014, Jaitley had to take a break during his first budget speech under the newly-elected Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government. At that stage, he had medical issues that led to the gastric bypass operation at the end of that year.
The minister is also known to have had severe backaches and had to sit down during his budget speeches in 2015 and 2016. He also had to undergo a coronary artery bypass in 2005.