BJP Grapples With Slots for Sushma, LK - The New Indian Express

BJP Grapples With Slots for Sushma, LK

Published: 15th May 2014 08:31 AM

Last Updated: 15th May 2014 08:31 AM

The final results may still be a day away but the top BJP brass is exploring minds of its senior leaders like L K Advani and Sushma Swaraj vis-a-vis their roles in the new government and also expanding the party’s alliance base. 

Riding high on the exit poll results, the BJP has even called a meeting of his its highest decision making body, Parliamentary Board, on Saturday, a day after the results are out. The crucial meet will decide on the role of senior leaders, decide on government formation, getting more allies, and even nominate Narendra Modi’s successor in Gujarat.

With the countdown to the new government already having begun, it was a hectic Wednesday as BJP leaders went into huddle strategising for the D-day. Three top leaders — party president Rajnath Singh, former chief Nitin Gadkari and Arun Jaitley — flew to Gandhinagar for a powwow with the ‘man of the moment’ Modi.

The new quartet — the powerful set of four leaders within the party — apparently discussed the role for seniors like Advani, Sushma and M M Joshi, government formation, expanding the NDA base even if the party gets the majority and contours of the Cabinet.

“As far as the roles of veteran leaders are concerned, I will call a party meeting to which they will be invited. After thorough discussions with all big leaders, we will decide what role will be played by which person,” Rajnath said ahead of the meeting.

Emerging from the meeting five hours later, Rajnath told the media, “We plan to hold a party’s Parliamentary Board meeting on Saturday. There the issue of appointing a new Gujarat chief minister will also be discussed.” He added the party will welcome more allies.

Rajnath Singh said his party would welcome more allies in the NDA fold after the results are declared on Friday and Modi will be the next PM. But before the three leaders dashed off to Gandhinagar for the Modi meeting, Rajnath and Nitin Gadkari separately met Swaraj to figure out her views on the government formation and her role.

Considered close to the RSS, Gadkari has emerged as a key interlocutor in the talks with Swaraj and Advani to get their views on the government formation and the role they would want after Friday. Separately, Arun Jaitley and Amit Shah also held meeting at the former’s residence to discuss the post-results situation.

On Advani and other senior leaders, whom he has been meeting, Gadkari said, “They are motivation and inspiration for all of us. Ultimately at the appropriate time, we will discuss the issue with them and it is up to the party to decide.”

Sources said the top brass was busy conducting exploratory talks with the senior-most leaders to get their views in a bid to save themselves from any blushes when Modi stakes the claim to form the government.

“So much expectation is riding on Modi coming to power. So, instead of himself getting down to pick his Cabinet, it was left to Rajnath and Gadkari to hold talks to smoothen the government formation. BJP would not like to have a new controversy at the outset, like it did before elections revolving around Modi’s candidature,” a BJP leader said.

As the drama played out on TV, Sushma Swaraj was quick to say she was not angry with anyone and these were courtesy visits. “Any speculation about my meetings with Rajnath and Nitin Gadkari is totally wrong. We wanted to meet each other ahead of the poll results.”

The biggest test before the BJP is to look for a suitable role for the senior-most leaders Advani and even Murli Manohar Joshi.

As Advani is unlikely to join the government under his one-time protégé Modi, speculation was rife on his possible role. Gadkari had met him on Tuesday to get to know his wish. The party leaders debated whether Advani will be offered chairmanship of the NDA alliance, speaker’s role or even Presidentship after Pranab Mukherjee’s term ends. Sources said the government formation is likely to cause changes within the party organisation.

The party may have to look for a new chief in the event of the incumbent joining the Cabinet. Considered close to the RSS, Gadkari is also in the reckoning.

“Unlike in the past when the organisation was neglected when BJP formed the government, this time focus would be given to the party. Apart from Modi’s government, we would need a strong party for expanding it across different states,” an insider said referring to the thinking in the saffron family.

Even top RSS leaders, including Mohan Bhagwat, are likely to be present in Delhi to help the BJP smoothen out any difficulties in government formation. The BJP is also busy preparing for a grand function after the poll results are out.

Looking for Modi’s successor in Gujarat will be another task before the party, though it’s going to less cumbersome as a person loyal to the Gujarat chief minister is likely to be elevated.

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