Heavy­weights Likely to Keep Key Posts

The Economic Times - - Pure Pol­i­tics -

Con­trary to spec­u­la­tion that im­por­tant port­fo­lios could go to tech­nocrats, the top jobs in the Cabi­net will con­tinue to re­main the do­main of po­lit­i­cal heavy­weights, said one of the per­sons. Arun Jait­ley, the leader of the Op­po­si­tion in the Ra­jya Sabha, is in pole po­si­tion to be­come fi­nance min­is­ter even if he suf­fers an elec­toral re­ver­sal in Am­rit­sar. Ra­j­nath Singh, the party pres­i­dent, could be the next home or de­fence min­is­ter if he de­cides to give up the party role. The fi­nal choice would be left to Singh, said the peo­ple cited ear­lier. Sushma Swaraj, the leader of the Op­po­si­tion in the Lok Sabha, would also get one of the top four port­fo­lios. Her choice of port­fo­lio is linked to that of Singh, i.e.- if the BJP pres­i­dent opts for home then Swaraj could get de­fence. How­ever, Nitin Gad­kari, the for­mer BJP pres­i­dent, is also a pos­si­ble con­tender for de­fence, said one of the peo­ple. If Gad­kari en­ters the pic­ture, Swaraj could get ex­ter­nal af­fairs. Ravi Shankar Prasad, a promi­nent lawyer and party spokesman, could get the law port­fo­lio. Suresh Prabhu, a well-re­garded Cabi­net min­is­ter from the Va­j­payee regime, could be the en­ergy min­is­ter, head­ing a min­istry that will sub­sume the ex­ist­ing petroleum & nat­u­ral gas and power min­istries as well as ar­eas such as re­new­ables.

Sim­i­larly, a newly cre­ated in­fra­struc­ture port­fo­lio would en­com­pass the cur­rent min­istries of sur­face trans­port and rail­ways. E Sreed­ha­ran, best known for building the Delhi Metro and be­fore that the Konkan Rail­way, may be tapped for the po­si­tion of min­is­ter of state to over­see the rail­way min­istry. Amit Shah could be ap­pointed min­is­ter of state in the PMO. How­ever, if Ra­j­nath Singh even­tu­ally opts to join the Cabi­net, Shah could suc­ceed him. Piyush Goyal could be a min­is­ter of state for fi­nance. Prab­hat Ku­mar, a for­mer Cabi­net sec­re­tary from the Va­j­payee era, is one of the names be­ing con­sid­ered as prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary to the PM. The names of PK Mishra, a Gu­jarat cadre bu­reau­crat, and Ashok Chawla, for­mer fi­nance sec­re­tary and cur­rently chair­man of the Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mis­sion of In­dia, are also do­ing the rounds. For the Cabi­net sec­re­tary, the se­nior-most civil ser­vant of the 1976 batch, Su­tanu Be­huria, is be­lieved to be in con­tention al­though the Times of In­dia re­ported on Tues­day that Javed Us­mani, the chief sec­re­tary of UP, is the fron­trun­ner.

If Us­mani, a 1978 batch top­per, were to get the job, he would by­pass eight civil ser­vants se­nior to him. A Modi gov­ern­ment would move to strengthen the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice and stream­line Cen­trestate re­la­tions by re­viv­ing bod­ies such as the In­ter­State Coun­cil and the Na­tional Devel­op­ment Coun­cil.

The Fi­nance Com­mis­sion, which a Modi-led ad­min­is­tra­tion is likely to re­gard as the lynch­pin of Cen­tre-state re­la­tions, could see a change at the top. The cur­rent chair­man, for­mer RBI gov­er­nor YV Reddy, is based in Hyderabad and a Modi gov­ern­ment would pre­fer a Del­hibased head, said one of the peo­ple quoted ear­lier.

Arvind Pana­gariya, a well-known econ­o­mist, could be­come chair­man of the Prime Min­is­ter’s Eco­nomic Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil.

The cur­rent Cabi­net has 71 mem­bers and the BJP Cabi­net will be con­sid­er­able smaller, one of the peo­ple cited ear­lier said. Over the course of a Modi regime, re­forms would speed up with min­istries such as com­merce and even in­dus­try dis­ap­pear­ing.

Arvind Pana­gariya, a well-known econ­o­mist, could be­come chair­man of the Prime Min­is­ter’s Eco­nomic Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil

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