PMship Assured, Modi Tightens Grip over NDA
Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi is likely to hold the position of the chairman of National Democratic Alliance (NDA), following the example of Atal Bihari Vajpayee who headed both the government and the ruling coalition.
Top sources in the BJP said NDA’s working chairman LK Advani had been told that Modi will have to lead the coalition to ensure smooth functioning of the government and the supporting alliance. Vajpayee, who has been seriously unwell for some years, is still NDA chairman.
The fact that BJP President Rajnath Singh and his predecessor Nitin Gadkari are both said to be keen on joining the government, would mean that Modi can also have a person of choice as the next party chief.
But the final shape of the government remained unclear. A powerful section of the RSS are said to be of the view that there should be no hurry to induct Rajnath Singh into the Modi cabinet as his presence is needed to steer the party through assembly polls.
“Apart from Maharashtra and Haryana assemblies, which are due for polls this year, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand governments can also fall, forcing early elections. In such a situation RSS leaders feel it is not wise to get a new or a relatively junior person as party president,” explained a senior BJP functionary.
Advani is likely to be the next Lok Sabha Speaker, according to sources.
“He cannot work under Modi in the NDA government and will have to leave the post of NDA chairman. In such a scenario, he is likely to become the Lok Sabha Speaker,” a senior party leader said. Party sources say Advani may hold the post of Speaker till 2017 when a vacancy arises in Rashtrapati Bhawan after President Pranab Mukherjee completes his term. However, it remains to be seen if NDA would make him its Presidential candidate as the veteran leader would be 90 by then. Meanwhile, it was a busy Sunday with possible ministerial aspirants calling on Modi. The PM-elect too called on Advani and another veteran leader MM Joshi. Modi had returned to the Capital from Varanasi on Saturday evening. Other than the Cabinet formation issues, the developments in Bihar after the resignation of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar were also discussed. Dharmendra Pradhan, BJP’s general secretary incharge of Bihar, met Modi and his close confidant Amit Shah in Gujarat Bhawan. Another general secretary JP Nadda, whose name is doing the rounds as one of the candidates to replace Rajnath as party chief, also met Modi. Senior leader Arun Jaitley, who is likely to be a part of the cabinet though he lost the elections from Amritsar, met Modi on Sunday afternoon as did Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Karnataka leaders Ananth Kumar and BS Yeddyurappa. Kumar and Yeddyurappa are likely to be part of the Modi government. National Peoples' Party Chief PA Sangma, LJP chief and NDA partner Ram Vilas Paswan were among the other leaders who met Modi. The RSS brass, including Mohan Bhagwat and Bhaiyyaji Joshi, are in Delhi and keeping a close eye on the developments. Modi and Rajnath Singh are in touch with the RSS leadership on cabinet formation and other issues. The BJP Parliamentary Board will meet on May 20 to formally choose Modi as the Parliamentary Party chief and Prime Minister. The party will then hold a meeting with its NDA partners before meeting President Mukherjee to stake a claim to form the government. While a date for oath-taking is yet to be finalised, party sources said it could be on May 24 or 25.
IN CONTROL: PM-elect Narendra Modi with mentor LK Advani