Indian finance minister Jaitley refuses to join new Modi govt

Published: May 29, 2019
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Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PHOTO: REUTERS

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI: Arun Jaitley, India’s finance minister, has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to give him a ministerial position in the new government, citing health issues.

“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,” Jaitley said in a letter written to Modi that was issued to media on Wednesday.

Modi won a second term in power with a landslide victory in
the recent general election.

His re-election reinforces a global trend of right-wing populists sweeping to victory, from the United States to Brazil and Italy, often after adopting harsh positions on protectionism, immigration and defence.

Modi stuns opposition with huge election win

Modi vowed an “inclusive” future for all Indians. “Together we grow. Together we prosper. Together we will build a strong and inclusive India,” Modi tweeted. “The faith placed in our alliance is humbling and gives us strength to work even harder to fulfil people’s aspirations,” he said.

During his first term, Modi was seen as dividing force. Critics says extremists were emboldened by the BJP’s coming to power with increasing lynching of Muslims and low-caste Dalits for eating beef and slaughtering and trading in cattle.

Under his government, several cities with names rooted in India’s Muslim past have been renamed, while some school textbooks have been changed to include references to Hindu right-wing ideology, culture and history.

His return to power for another five years, instilled a sense of resignation among Muslims, particularly in the northern town of Ayodhya, where Modi’s party has promised to build a temple at the site of a mosque raze by Hindu zealots in 1992.

Hindu groups have said they would now press Modi on their demand for a Ram temple on the Ayodhya site, life in jail for killing cows – considered sacred by many Hindus – and ending the autonomy of Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK).

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