Modi consults senior leaders on next govt

Modi drove to Advani’s residence and spent nearly 40 minutes with the 86-year-old leader to discuss various options with him, sources said.



By Sonny Abraham (reporting From New Delhi) (news@khaleejtimes.com)

Published: Sun 18 May 2014, 11:59 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 1:57 AM

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) moved its government formation exercise into top gear with its prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi holding discussions with several top leaders of the party, including former deputy prime minister Lal Krishna Advani, here on Sunday.

Modi drove to Advani’s residence and spent nearly 40 minutes with the 86-year-old leader to discuss various options with him, sources said.

Earlier, Modi also met former Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who is among those being considered for a cabinet berth.

Earlier, Modi held discussions with his key aide Amit Shah and BJP general secretary J.P. Nadda. Shah also sat in on some of his meetings with other leaders.

There was hectic activity elsewhere, too, with BJP general secretary Ananth Kumar, who trounced Infosys founder Nandan Nilekani in the elections, meeting Advani and senior party leaders M. Venkaiah Naidu, Kalraj Mishra and Harsh Vardhan meeting senior functionaries of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological mentor.

Naidu, however, told newspersons that he had only come to meet “seniors”. “The RSS never gets into things like cabinet formation,” he explained.

The BJP Parliamentary Board, its highest decision-making body, had met here on Saturday and decided that its parliamentary party, consisting of its members of parliament, would meet here on May 20 to formally elect Modi as its leader.

BJP president Rajnath Singh had also said that the date for the swearing-in ceremony of Modi as the new prime minister would be decided after he is formally elected as the leader of the parliamentary party.

Among the others who met Modi on Sunday were Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Ram Vilas Paswan, chief of the Lok Janshakti Party, an ally of the BJP in Bihar.

Modi has a problem of plenty as far as MPs is concerned, with 282 members in the newly-elected 16th Lok Sabha and another 46 in the Rajya Sabha. Add to this the numbers from its various allies, and Modi’s problems only get compounded. There is an upper limit of 81 on the number of ministers, and Modi is also learnt to have plans to induct some technocrats into his team.

Many of the BJP leaders and others have already served as ministers in the previous BJP government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee or in other governments or as chief ministers and could, therefore, legitimately think that they have a legitimate claim on a place in the new council of ministers.

Then there are the many new faces, who also have aspirations and would like to be part of the new government. Modi’s first task in this regard would be to find a proper assignment for veterans such as Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and others.

Senior leaders like Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Yashwant Sinha, Nitin Gadkari, Naidu, Uma Bharti, Shanta Kumar, B.C. Khanduri, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Yeddyurappa, Maneka Gandhi and Gopinath Munde might figure in the list.

One of the options being considered is that Advani, who had at one time nursed hopes of becoming prime minister, might be offered the position of speaker of the Lok Sabha. Swaraj’s name has also figured in this respect.

Modi’s most trusted aide Amit Shah is tipped to become his boss’s enforcer with a top post in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Successful lawyer Arun Jaitley, a member of the upper house, has been widely tipped to become finance minister. BJP president Rajnath Singh, a past federal government minister, could also be tapped for a key ministry.

Sushma Swaraj, who led the opposition in the lower house in recent years and is the BJP’s most senior woman leader, is also expected to receive a key cabinet position, although she is not close to Modi.

(With inputs from AFP)


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