Bharatiya Janata Party’s Prime Minister designate Narendra Modi met senior leaders on Saturday to discuss government formation as party sources indicated that he would stake claim to form the government on May 22.
He called on L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi separately at their residences in the wake of speculation over their role in the new dispensation. While sources indicated that Joshi was not averse to joining the government, there were suggestions that Advani may be offered the post of Lok Sabha Speaker.
Sources suggested that Advani will quit as working chairman of the NDA after Modi is elected BJP parliamentary party leader on May 20. Modi, sources said, would stake claim to form the government on May 22, a day after he is felicitated by the Gujarat Assembly. The swearing-in ceremony would be in the following week.
While several BJP leaders, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, party general secretaries Ananth Kumar, JP Nadda and
Dharmendra Pradhan called on Modi at Gujarat Bhavan, leaders of NDA partners, LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan and Naga People’s Front (NPF) leader Neiphiu Rio, also met Modi. Former Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, too, called on him.
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While party sources remained tight-lipped about the internal deliberations, sources sought to clarify that Modi will have a free hand in choosing his cabinet and described these meetings as a “suggestion gathering” exercise.
Several party leaders today also dropped in at the RSS office in the Capital’s Jhandelwalan to meet RSS leaders Bhaiyaaji Joshi and Suresh Soni. They included Venkaiah Naidu, Sushma Swaraj, Gopinath Munde and Rajiv Pratap Rudy.
RSS sources, however, sought to suggest that these were courtesy meetings and most leaders expressed their gratitude for the help provided by RSS cadres during the elections.
Though party leaders maintained silence over the exact contours of Modi’s cabinet, senior party leaders sought to underline adequate representation from all regions—either from the party or its alliance partners. “One thing is certain, the geographical representation for the party will be ensured to deepen the party’s presence even in those areas where our vote shares went up but we did not manage that many seats,” said a senior leader.
Party leaders suggested that while Modi will take a final call on the issue of senior leaders, he will factor in the organisation’s feedback on representation from different states.
While it will be relatively easy to decide on the participation from the states where the party does not have many MPs, the tricky areas could be states such as UP and Bihar where the bulk of the MPs are from, Karnataka where Yeddyurappa’s return ensured a better show and Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra where the party will have to strike a balance between its own MPs and that of its partners.