Modi rejigs cabinet as finance minister undergoes surgery

AFP/File

India's finance minister Arun Jaitley was recovering in hospital Tuesday after undergoing a kidney transplant that forced Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reshuffle his cabinet.

Railways minister Piyush Goyal on Monday was assigned Jaitley's duties managing Asia's third-largest economy until the ruling party stalwart returns to good health.

Jaitley, 65, has been suffering kidney-related problems for months and was on dialysis for a fortnight at New Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences ahead of the transplant.

The institute said the procedure Monday was successful and both Jaitley and the donor were stable. It did not mention how long it would take him to recover fully.

Jaitley underwent bariatric surgery in 2014 to treat diabetes and weight gain. He also underwent heart surgery several years ago.

He is the second minister from Modi's cabinet to undergo a kidney transplant after foreign minister Sushma Swaraj in 2016.

Jaitley, a lawyer, has served as a senior minister in Modi's cabinet since the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in May 2014.

He was appointed finance minister in Modi's first government and has remained at the helm since as India rose to become one of the world's fastest growing economies.

Jaitley was credited with landmark reforms including a nationwide goods and services tax rolled out in 2017, but has faced criticism for periods of slower growth.

In another cabinet change, Smriti Irani was dumped as head of the high-profile information and broadcasting ministry.

Irani has been embroiled in numerous controversies, including a failed bid to punish journalists accused of broadcasting fake news.

The order was revoked less than 24 hours after being issued amid an outcry at a perceived government crackdown on free press.

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