Indian ex-finance minister Arun Jaitley hospitalised with breathing difficulties

A 2018 photo shows Arun Jaitley at a news conference in New Delhi, India.
A 2018 photo shows Arun Jaitley at a news conference in New Delhi, India.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - Former Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley, a close ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was admitted to hospital on Friday (Aug 9) after complaining of breathing difficulties.

Jaitley, 66, a diabetic, stepped down in January this year due to ill health before elections that returned Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power.

"He is currently undergoing treatment in the intensive care unit under the supervision of a multidisciplinary team of doctors," a statement from the All India Institute Medical Sciences said. Modi visited Jaitley in hospital on Friday.

Jaitley's health issues worsened after he underwent a kidney transplant in May last year. He also had to skip the presentation of the interim budget in February 2018 when he was in hospital in the United States for cancer treatment.

The lawyer-turned-politician also had triple bypass heart surgery when he was 52.

Jaitley's urbane and articulate manner helped him win friends across party lines and industry, leading to the enactment of a bankruptcy code and a national goods and services tax law that had languished for almost 20 years.

But he had a mixed record in economic management. Though inflation hit a record low during his tenure, growth sagged from 8 per cent to 5.8 per cent during the first three months of 2019.