Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi is in a defiant mood. He is resisting all pressure groups from the BJP, the allies, the Sangh Parivar and the corporate world, keeping them away from interfering in government formation. Cabinet formation is a difficult task for Modi, since he has to choose ministers from 393 NDA members in both houses of Parliament. The allies have 54 in the Lok Sabha and the BJP has 282. In the Rajya Sabha, the allies have 15 and the BJP 42. After the party won a majority, the BJP has also many new, young faces in its parliamentary ranks. With 67 allies in the NDA, caste and regional sentiments are clamouring for acknowledgement. All these factors put together, choosing ministers is quite a task for the new Prime Minister who wants a compact, and performance-oriented cabinet. However, the likelihood is that the most important portfolios will come directly under him or senior BJP ministers to facilitate seamless coordination. BJP’s big regional allies are expected to get cabinet and MoS positions.
Hence, the Gujarat Bhavan on Kautilya Marg is the epicentre of the powerquake that has affected Delhi since Narendra Modi won 2014. Decisions are being taken only by him and his trusted aide Amit Shah, working on planning the cabinet through the day and night.
The suspense is building up.
For BJP leaders, nail biting is the only recourse. The picture is slightly clearer for the allies. Modi’s inclusive policy, even if he doesn’t need outside support, will ensure them berths in the cabinet. Most of the cabinet berth hopefuls from BJP or its allies have started arriving in the Capital waiting for the call to join the swearing-in ceremony. A few, who think they are likely to get lucky, have sealed their lips lest a leak mar their chances. With just a day left for the oath taking ceremony, Modi and BJP chief Rajnath Singh are meeting NDA allies for the last minute consultations. With its clear mandate, technically, the BJP does not need them, but its long-term strategy mandates that the allies be taken along to increase the saffron party’s footprint across the country.