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Citing ill-health, Arun Jaitley opts out of ministerial position

In a letter to Modi, former Minister said that treatment requires his full attention

Seeking respite: Due to his ill-health, Arun Jaitley could not present the last Union Budget.


Former Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has ended all speculation over his health and inclusion in the new Cabinet by writing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he is opting out of any ministerial position.

The letter, released by Mr. Jaitley on social media, makes it clear that his health requires his full attention.

The Council of Ministers will be sworn in on Thursday evening.

Due to his ill-health, Mr. Jaitley could not present the last Budget — the honours were done by the caretaker Finance Minister Piyush Goyal.

Absent from party office

Mr. Jaitley was absent at the celebrations held at the party headquarters in New Delhi on May 23 when the results of the 17th general election were out, as well as at the National Democratic Alliance’s parliamentary party meeting on May 25.

Well-wishers of Mr. Jaitley and colleagues like RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das met him at his residence in the last few days.

“I am writing to you to formally request you that I should be allowed reasonable time to myself, my treatment and my health, and therefore not be part of any responsibility, for the present, in the new government,” Mr. Jaitley wrote to Mr. Modi.

Apart from handling the Finance and the Corporate Affairs Ministries, Mr. Jaitley had, at various stages in the last five years, handled the Defence and Information and Broadcasting portfolios. While no word is out on who will get the Finance portfolio now, Mr. Goyal appears to be the front runner.

Mr. Jaitley is the Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha.

Naveen, Khandu take oath as Odisha and Arunachal CMs

Odisha CM promises to present progress report in one year

One more term: Naveen Patnaik taking oath as the Chief Minister of Odisha in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday. PTIPTI

Biju Janata Dal (BJD) president Naveen Patnaik and senior BJP leader Pema Khandu were sworn in as the Chief Ministers of Odisha and Arunachal Pradesh on Wednesday.

Mr. Patnaik took the oath for the fifth consecutive term in Bhubaneswar.

10 new faces

Twenty other members of the new Council of Ministers were sworn in at the ceremony held at the Exhibition Ground. The Council has 10 new faces, including two women. Mr. Patnaik and his ministerial colleagues were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Ganeshi Lal.

“It’s a nostalgic and personal journey for me to reminisce the past 19 years. Today, while I take oath of office for the fifth term, I humbly accept the responsibility that comes with the faith my 4.5 crore family members have reposed in me, yet again,” tweeted Mr. Patnaik.

The new Council of Ministers approved in principle the election manifesto of the BJD as a priority of the State government.

Addressing his ministerial team, hours after the swearing-in, Mr. Patnaik said that 365 days hence, on May 29, 2020, the government will present before the people the government’s achievements vis-à-vis promises.

Mr. Patnaik asked the Ministers to focus on transformation towards “a New Odisha — an empowered Odisha — where poverty will be a thing of the past.”

‘Historic day’

In Itanagar, Mr. Khandu, pitchforked into politics after the death of his father in a helicopter crash eight years ago, was sworn in as the first Chief Minister of an elected BJP government.

Chronologically, he is the 10th. His father, Dorjee Khandu, was the fifth. There was another first for Mr. Khandu. His installation happened in Itanagar’s landmark convention centre named after his father, instead of the Raj Bhavan, 2 km away, where his predecessors were sworn in.

Apart from Mr. Khandu, Governor B.D. Mishra administered the oath of office and secrecy to Chown Mein as the Deputy Chief Minister and 10 others as Ministers.

Mr. Khandu described the day as historic because a “full-fledged BJP government has been installed” in the State for the first time.

(With PTI inputs)

Cricket’s royal showpiece begins today

The Oval will host the World Cup opener featuring England and South Africa on Thursday and over the next 45 days, fans will be glued to contests at venues ranging from Lord’s to Edgbaston.

Cricket’s premier championship surely lacks the universal heft of its counterpart in football, yet, in pockets across the globe where British colonial imprint lingers, the World Cup will prevail over a range of issues, be it Brexit in England or post-election ennui in India.

Having discarded the earlier practice of teams being split into two groups, the World Cup has embraced the round-robin league from where the top four in a field of 10 will battle it out in the final stretch culminating in the summit clash on July 14.

Kargil war veteran declared a foreigner

Mohammed Sanaullah

The family of a retired soldier, who fought in the Kargil war two decades ago, approached the Gauhati High Court on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after he was sent to a detention centre for foreigners or illegal migrants.

Mohammed Sanaullah, who retired as an honorary Lieutenant in the Army, was arrested soon after he was summoned by the Assam Police Border Organisation, or the Border Police, in Guwahati on Tuesday.

The arrest followed the order of a Foreigners’ Tribunal that adjudged him a non-citizen.

Lt. Sanaullah, 52, ironically, was serving as an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) in the Border Police that is tasked with identifying, detaining and deporting doubtful citizens and illegal migrants. This unit of the State police often employs retired defence and paramilitary personnel.

Exactly 100 Foreigners’ Tribunals in Assam hear and dispose of cases of people deemed foreigners by the Border Police. Such people need to prove their Indian citizenship with documentary evidence.

A Foreigners’ Tribunal in Boko had served notice on Mr. Sanaullah last year.

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