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Posted at: May 25, 2019, 7:02 AM; last updated: May 25, 2019, 2:03 PM (IST)

Cabinet to be mix of new, old

Shah unlikely to join | Irani, Bengal & Telangana MPs may be rewarded

Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 24

A day after the BJP swept to power, speculation has begun as to who all would make it to PM Narendra Modi’s next Cabinet and if party president Amit Shah would be a part of it. 

Shah’s name is doing the rounds for four key ministries — Home, Finance, External Affairs and Defence — and also the post of Deputy PM. But sources say it is unlikely that he will join the Union Cabinet.

Being party president, Shah holds a powerful position which he may not like to exchange for a post in the government, the sources say. Besides, he is an “organisation man” who is already working on his next plan  to strengthen the BJP base in states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala. 

A few days ago, when asked about the possibility of joining the government, he had simply replied: “It is the prerogative of the party and PM.”

There will be several new faces in the Modi ministry besides the tried and tested ones. It remains to be seen if Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and  External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who have health issues, will be part of the new ministry.

Swaraj, who attended the PM’s victory function on Thursday, was seen in an animated discussion with other BJP Parliamentary Board members, including Rajnath Singh, Thawar Chand Gehlot, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and JP Nadda. Nitin Gadkari could not make it apparently because of bad weather. Jaitley was absent because of poor health.

With Rajya Sabha MPs such as Ravi Shankar Prasad and Smriti Irani entering the Lok Sabha, the BJP has the option of accommodating Swaraj in the Upper House. No official word yet, but senior leaders Piyush Goyal, Nirmala Sitharaman and Prakash Javadekar are expected to retain their place. Smriti has emerged as a giant slayer, trouncing AICC chief Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, and is likely to be rewarded. 

Rajnath Singh, Gehlot, Gadkari, Prasad, Vijay Goel, Narendra Singh Tomar too are expected to be part of the new ministry. There is talk that BJP vice-presidents Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Vasundhara Raje and Raman Singh may be accommodated as well. The BJP allies — Shiv Sena, JD-U and SAD — will all be part of the government. The party is expected to reward new faces from West Bengal, Odisha and Telangana and those who made that happen, such as RS MP GVL Narasimha Rao and general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya. The party is keen on grooming its second line of leadership. 

Meanwhile, Modi and Amit Shah today called on veterans LK Advani and MM Joshi. “Called on respected Advaniji. The BJP’s successes today are possible because greats like him spent decades building the party and providing a fresh ideological narrative to the people,” the PM tweeted.

Ahead of the party’s foundation day, Advani had written a rather controversial blog, outlining how the BJP never regarded those who disagreed with it politically as “anti-national” or “enemies” but only as adversaries. It was lapped up by BJP rivals, who accused Modi and Shah of disrespecting party elders.    “Dr Murli Manohar Joshi is a scholar and intellectual par excellence. His contribution towards improving Indian education is remarkable. He has always worked to strengthen the BJP and mentor karyakartas, including me. Met him this morning and sought his blessings,” the PM tweeted.

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