NEW DELHI: A day after his victory march in Delhi and thanksgiving Ganga Aarti in Varanasi, Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi made the national capital his base, holding parleys with all senior leaders before he announces his Cabinet in the coming days. Efforts were on to get the senior trio of L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Sushma Swaraj on board over the government formation as the BJP, which secured absolute majority, would not want to suffer embarrassment at the outset.
In the series of meetings, the most significant one came on Sunday afternoon, when Modi went to meet patriarch Advani. Sources said Advani’s role as Speaker was almost final with decks cleared for Modi to become the chairman of the NDA alliance. The next meeting of the BJP parliamentary party is scheduled for Tuesday, where Modi will be formally elected as the leader. On the same day, the BJP will hold talks with its allies to formally endorse Modi as the PM. Sources said the issue of NDA chairman has to be settled before the meeting, as currently Advani holds the post of working NDA president. Being the NDA chief would give the PM-designate complete control over issues related to alliance partners.
With the task of finding a suitable role for senior leaders becoming a cause of worry within the party, Modi also drove to Murli Manohar Joshi’s house and met the veteran. Sushma Swaraj, who shares an uneasy relation with Modi and was learnt to be reluctant to become a part of the Cabinet, went to meet senior RSS functionaries in the capital. Sources, however, said all senior leaders, including Sushma, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari and M M Joshi were likely to be a part of Modi’s Cabinet. The BJP will also keep in mind the crucial caste and alliance equations while forming the Cabinet.
The hectic weekend also saw RSS camp office, Keshav Kunj, and Gujarat Bhawan, where Modi is staying, become the nerve centres of intense political activity. Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, party general secretary Ananth Kumar and Lok Jan Shakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan met Modi at the chief ministerial suite of the Gujarat Bhawan. His Man Friday Amit Shah also called on him.
Other party leaders who are lobbying for plum posts in the Modi government went to the RSS camp office making it a near-parallel power centre. The key visitors included Venkaiah Naidu, Kalraj Mishra, Harsh Vardhan, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Uma Bharti, B S Yeddyurappa,
M M Joshi and Smriti Irani. “I have come to meet the seniors. The RSS never gets into things like Cabinet formation,” said Naidu after his visit.