Modi to stake claim today

Modi to stake claim today

Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi will meet President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday afternoon after his election as leader of the BJP parliamentary party and the NDA to stake claim to form the new government at the Centre.

Modi will be first elected as leader of the newly elected MPs of the BJP and then by the NDA at a gathering in Parliament’s Central Hall at 11 am.

Later, a delegation comprising Modi, party chief Rajnath Singh and representatives of  of BJP allies will meet the President expressing their willingness to form the government as they have won 336 seats in the recent elections.

Modi, on Monday, continued consultations with party leaders as well as allies amid indications that his new council of ministers would include Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari and even Arun Shourie, who is not in the BJP now.

BJP sources said details of portfolio allocation were still unclear as Modi was yet to reveal his plan. But the speculation was that Rajnath Singh could get either home or defence portfolio, and Jaitley finance or external affairs. Gadkari could be considered for infrastructure development.

In a series of meetings Modi and Singh held separately, broad contours of the soon-to-be formed Modi cabinet had emerged. BJP sources, however, said the names would be finalised after May 21.

Senior leader Sushma Swaraj,who, along with L K Advani, had reservations over the Gujarat chief minister’s elevation as party’s poll mascot, followed her meeting with RSS top brass with a maiden consultation with Modi and later Rajnath Singh. 

The discussion on NDA allies’ share of cabinet berths will be held when representatives of all the 25 partners attend the meeting to elect Modi as their leader. A host of BJP leaders, including Amit Shah, Arun Jaitley, former home secretary R K Singh, Udit Raj, Manoj Tiwari and senior UP leader Vinay Katiyar, also met top RSS functionaries.

It was still not clear whether veteran leader Advani would get the Lok Sabha Speaker’s job as new names like Karia Munda and Gopinath Munde cropped up during Monday’s discussions.

Though the date of swearing in, to be fixed by the President in consultation with the NDA, has not been announced, it is likely to be held a couple of days after Modi addresses a special Assembly session and resigns as Gujarat chief minister on May 21, a BJP leader said.

The date will most probably be chosen by Rajnath Singh, who is known to fall back on astrology, as Modi is a non-believer who had filed his nomination papers from Varanasi at an “inauspicious” hour.

The oath-taking ceremony is likely to be held in the Durbar Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan. The BJP expects a bigger gathering than the venue can hold. Hence, the forecourt, where Atal Bihari Vajpayee was sworn in as prime minister in 1998, is also being considered.

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