M A I N   N E W S

Modi reaches out to Advani, Joshi
Govt formation plans pick up
Senior leaders flock to RSS HQ
Sangh wants young ministers
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 18
After the party’s historic win on Friday, it was anything but a lazy Sunday for the BJP-RSS top leadership. Senior leaders remained engaged in a flurry of meetings on government formation throughout the day.

All roads led to 11 Kautilya Marg, Chanakyapuri (Gujarat Bhawan), where Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi is putting up and Keshavkunj (the RSS headquarters at Jhandewalan) as party leaders flocked to the national capital’s most sough-after addresses and mediapersons kept close tabs on VIP movement. The big question: Who will get what portfolio in the Modi Cabinet after he takes charge as PM most likely by May 25.

Though party leaders are extremely tight-lipped about developments within the party, Modi is expected to be in Gujarat around May 21-22 for handing over the baton to the next CM.

Fearing repercussions if their names appear in media as probable ministers, party leaders refused to talk even off record. “It’s the discretion of the Prime Minister,” is all they said. When senior BJP leader Ravishankar Prasad was asked whether he would be the next Law Minister, he said, “Please don’t embarrass me.”

Clearly, no one has the answers except Modi and the RSS. The party’s ideological mentor is believed to have given its preferences, but Modi will take the final call on his Council of Ministers in concurrence with the RSS, sources said.

Some clarity could be expected on the next occupants of the four Raisina Hill ministries --Home, Finance, Defence and External Affairs -- on May 21 when the Parliamentary party meeting takes place. Modi may take oath either on May 23 or May 25. However, these dates are mere speculation based on possibilities of ‘shubh mahurats’ as no formal announcement has been made.

Party president Rajnath Singh appears to be in the reckoning for one of the top ministries. Who will be party president is anybody’s guess, with the names of Nitin Gadkari, JP Nadda, Venkaiah Naidu and Amit Shah doing the rounds.

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parikkar, an IIT alumni believed to be close to the Sangh, may be shifted to the Centre. But that would mean leaving Goa with some other leader, which, sources say, may not be appropriate at this juncture.

The RSS is believed to have made it clear that it wants young and qualified leaders in the Council of Ministers. This is one reason why Varun Gandhi’s name is doing the rounds instead of mother Maneka.

To ensure equal representation, a Dalit, a Muslim and a Sikh face may also be accommodated. The Sangh, it seems, wants veterans LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi to step away from active politics, which is believed to be one reason why Modi paid them a visit. “Modi’s visit was meant to Modi drove to Advani's residence after discussions with general secretaries Amit Shah and JP Nadda. Karnataka strongman BS Yeddyurappa and party's Bihar in-charge Dharmendra Pradhan also visited him at the Gujarat Bhawan to brief him on the ground situation in their respective states.

The allies don’t have much scope for bargaining given the BJP’s strong positions. The Shiv Sena is the best placed. With 18 seats, it can expect a Cabinet post along with a couple of minister of state portfolios.

Despite his defeat from Amritsar, Arun Jaitley may still get one of the top ministries, sources said. It has also left BJP’s Punjab ally, the Akali Dal, with a lesser range of striking a better deal, though Harsimrat Kaur Badal is likely to be inducted as a minister of state.

The probables

  • Party chief Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley in the reckoning for one of the top ministries
  • Nitin Gadkari, JP Nadda, Venkaiah Naidu and Amit Shah tipped as party chief
  • Despite losing to Rahul Gandhi, Modi favourite Smriti Irani expected to land a portfolio

Where the allies stand

Shiv Sena: Best placed with 18 seats; can expect Cabinet berth and some MoS portfolios

SAD: Though both BJP and Jaitley are riled by his loss, Harsimrat Kaur Badal likely to be inducted as MoS

LJP: Paswan may get one portfolio, though not necessarily of his choice

PMK: Despite lone seat in Tamil Nadu, good chance of a portfolio as BJP wants to make inroads into state





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