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Countdown: BJP brass goes into huddle
Ahead of counting, party discusses Advani, Swaraj’s role; Jaitley, Rajnath, Gadkari meet Modi
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 14
The BJP top brass held a flurry of meetings on Wednesday to discuss the possibility of the party forming the government at the Centre and the role for three senior leaders — LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Sushma Swaraj — in the new regime.

The party got a further boost with “friendly overtures” from regional satraps such as the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD and Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK ahead of the counting on May 16.

Senior party leaders, including Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari and party chief Rajnath Singh, flew to Gandhinagar to meet the party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi after exit polls predicted a win for the NDA.

The party’s ideological fountainhead-the RSS- is apparently keen on “ironing out differences within the party and keeping Modi detractors in good humour.”

Before rushing to Gujarat, Rajnath Singh and Gadkari met Advani and Swaraj, to discuss and define their roles in the “Modi government”, said sources. Senior party leaders Arun Jaitley and Amit Shah also held a meeting at the former's residence.

Quashing speculations on Advani, Swaraj and Joshi being unhappy, a senior leader, who did not wish to be quoted, said Gandkari had been “specially deputed” by the RSS to act as a mediator between them and Modi.

Sources said the discussions revolved around four Raisina Hill portfolios — Home, Finance, Defence and External Affairs. Swaraj is keen on External Affairs Ministry but so is Arun Jaitley, a key member of the Modi’s core group, say sources. M Venkaiah Naidu and Ravi Shankar Prasad are also interested in the top ministries, say sources. Leaders familiar with Modi’s style of functioning say he has already prepared a blueprint of his government. “If the BJP wins, it will be a mandate for Modi. But both he and the RSS wants his detractors to be happy,” they say.

Advani is currently the acting chairman the NDA, a post that Modi may want to keep to prevent a situation where there could be dual power centres. Also, Advani and Joshi may not want to work in a Cabinet led by Modi keeping in mind their seniority. Advani may be willing to settle for Speaker’s job and a promise for the President’s post. Joshi may settle for the Vice President’s post. It, however, can only happen after three years. Pranab Mukherjee became the President in July 2012 and Hamid Ansari was re-elected as V-P in August, the same year.

Significantly, the venue of the main meeting today was Gandhinagar. Party sources say the place was chosen carefully to ensure that no further controversy was generated. “Advani, Swaraj and Joshi would not have gone to Gujarat. If the meeting was held in Delhi, they would have had to be included,” they say.

Flurry of meetings

  • Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari and party chief Rajnath Singh flew to Gandhinagar to meet Modi
  • Before rushing to Gujarat, Rajnath and Gadkari met Advani and Swaraj to discuss and define their roles in the “Modi government”

BJD sends feelers

  • The BJD on Wednesday appeared to be sending signals over its possible outside support to an NDA government at the Centre.





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