M A I N   N E W S

Top leaders or fringe players, all eye key posts
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 13
With just two days to go before the D-day (May 16), speculations are rife over who will be included in the Narendra Modi government, if the BJP comes to power, and who will stay out to “strengthen” the party.

Whatever they may say, all top BJP leaders are eyeing key posts in the government. Former party president Nitin Gadkari, it seems, is trying to make a comeback as the BJP chief.

Although party president Rajnath Singh has indicated that he would not be the part of the government if the party comes to power, sources say he is a top contender for the Home Minister’s post along with senior colleagues Murli Manohar Joshi and Sushma Swaraj.

For Sushma Swaraj, it can also be a toss-up between the External Affairs Ministry and the option of “staying” with the organisation, party sources say. Though speculations are there that she can be adjusted as the Speaker of the House, but the post may go to Sumitra Mahajan.

Adjusting senior leaders, including former presidents Joshi, Nitin Gadkari, and M Venkaiah Naidu, along with the present incumbent Rajnath Singh, is an issue that can only be sorted out with the help of party’s ideological fountainhead—the RSS.

Sources say the reason why the top BJP leadership did not want veterans like Joshi and Advani to contest elections was because adjusting them in “correct places” while ensuring that the PMO protocol is also followed may prove problematic. So far as Sushma Swaraj is concerned, she has been the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the post she gets should match her stature. “She is also very articulate, hence her name can be considered for the Foreign Ministry. Besides, she has been Modi’s adversary and giving her a plum post would help Modi in the long run,” they say.

Modi, it seems, is also quite inclined toward getting professionals to man technical portfolios. For example, name of Metro man E Sreedharan is doing the rounds for the Railway Ministry portfolio. There is a talk that a special ministry with focus on rivers may be carved out for Uma Bharti.

Sreedharan, who is appreciated for his contribution to the Konkan Railways and the Delhi Metro, had recently voiced support for Modi. “But for that, the BJP will have to get a clear majority,” sources add.

So far as the organisation is concerned, sources say one out of Rajnath Singh, Gadkari and Naidu will have to stay back to ensure that the organisation does not weaken. “In 2004, the main problem that the BJP faced was a weak organisation. The advantage of getting Rajnath Singh in the government is that an alternative power centre can be avoided,” sources say.

Incidentally, Naidu and Rajnath Singh’s names are also doing the rounds for the Defence Ministry. Other names that can be considered for the Foreign Ministry are that of Arun Jaitley (who can also be a Finance Ministry contender), Ravi Shankar Prasad (a key part of BJP’s think tank) and Yashwant Sinha (who was an External Affairs Ministry in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government). Though he has not contested the elections, he can always be in, via the Rajya Sabha route.

It is expected that Modi’s right-hand man Amit Shah could be adjusted as the minister of state in the PMO. He may contest the Vadodra seat, which Modi may vacate, if he wins Varanasi.

The BJP top brass will meet in New Delhi on Wednesday and is likely to take a call on the role of senior party leaders, including LK Advani, in the new government and the party set-up.

The speculation

LK Advani: Can be adjusted as the NDA chairperson with the promise of the President’s post

MM Joshi: Can be a contender to become the first citizen of the country after Pranab’s tenure get over

Sushma Swaraj: For her, it can be a toss-up between the External Affairs Ministry and the option of “staying” with the party organisation

Rajnath Singh: Being seen as a top contender for the Union Home Minister’s post

Amit Shah: Modi’s right-hand man can be adjusted as the minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office

E Sreedharan: Name of the Metro man is doing the rounds for the Railway Ministry portfolio.





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