Jaitley returns, attends RS proceedings

Jaitley returns, attends RS proceedings

Union minister Arun Jaitley speaks in the Rajya Sabha, in New Delhi on Thursday. (RSTV GRAB via PTI)

Union minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday made his first public appearance after almost three months when he attended the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha and voted in the election for its deputy chairperson.

Jaitley, who had undergone a kidney transplant surgery on May 14, reached the House a little before the proceedings began and was welcomed by members who greeted him by thumping the desk.

Many of them even started heading towards him but Chairman Venkaiah Naidu asked them not to do so as the leader of the House was still not out of danger of catching an infection.

As advised by the doctors, Jaitley could only meet the members from a distance and refused a handshake even when Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Earlier, he arrived in the precincts of Parliament House in his own car wearing a mask and accompanied by his personal staff. Soon before alighting from the car, Jaitley removed the mask and walked straight to the House greeting people on the way with folded hands.

The 65-year-old minister appeared to be regaining his health but has lost some weight post surgery. He sat in the House for more than an hour, next to the prime minister (his designated seat) and exchanged smiles intermittently with members.

While speaking in the Rajya Sabha after the election of its deputy chairman, he also made some light remarks about the seating arrangement of the deputy chairman, who occupies a place next to the Leader of the Opposition in the House.

Since the newly elected Deputy Chairman Harivansh is an NDA candidate, Leader of the Opposition in the House Ghulam Nabi Azad, in a lighter vein, said, “Please also pay attention to this side (Opposition benches)”.

To this, Jaitley replied, “While he will sit along with you (Opposition), he will keep an eye on us (treasury benches)”.

Jaitley spoke for a little longer than three minutes in the House and his speech was interspersed with his characteristic smile and gestures.

The Union minister left the House around 12.15 pm. Jaitley is expected to take charge of the finance ministry sometime next week but his doctors have advised him to maintain utmost care as he is susceptible to catching an infection.

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