Around 8,000 guests are expected to attend PM’s swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhawan
CAPPING a landslide election victory, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take oath along with a new council of ministers on Thursday for a second term, as suspense mounted on who will get the Big Four berths--Home, Finance, Defence and External Affairs. Top Opposition leaders including Congress President Rahul Gandhi and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, corporate honchos, film stars, Chief Ministers and a galaxy of leaders from BIMSTEC countries will be on hand to watch President Ram Nath Kovind administer the oath of office and secrecy to 68-year-old Modi and his ministerial colleagues at the forecourt of majestic Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Though there is an intense buzz that Shah, credited for crafting the political strategy for the BJP, may be part of the new Government and be given a plum portfolio, there was no clarity yet on him making a ministerial debut at the Centre. There was also speculation that Shah might continue as BJP chief since Assembly elections in some key States are due to be held in the next one year. Senior members like Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Nirmala Sitharaman, Smriti Irani, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Piyush Goyal, Dharmendra Pradhan, Narendra Singh Tomar and Prakash Javadekar are likely to retain their place. Irani, who defeated Rahul Gandhi in his home turf of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh to earn the tag of giant killer, is expected to get a key portfolio.
There have been indications that the new ministry will reflect BJP’s rising strength in states like West Bengal, Odisha and Telangana. As far as allies are concerned, both the Shiv Sena and the JD(U) are expected to get two berths (one Cabinet and one MoS) each, while the LJP and the SAD may be given one berth each. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had a meeting with Shah on Wednesday and the two leaders are understood to have discussed JD(U)’s representation in the Government. Lok Janshakti Party on Tuesday passed a resolution, recommending its president Ram Vilas Paswan as the party’s representative in the Modi Government.
The AIADMK, which was also not part of the previous government, won only one seat. It may be given a ministerial berth as it is in power in Tamil Nadu besides being a key Dravidian ally of the BJP. Around 8,000 guests are expected to attend the swearing-in ceremony at the forecourt which is generally used for ceremonial reception to visiting heads of state and heads of government. When Modi is sworn-in at around 7 PM, it will be the second time he takes the oath at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan. Modi was sworn in by the then President Pranab Mukherjee in 2014 in the presence of over 3,500 guests including the heads of SAARC countries. Earlier, Chandra Shekhar in 1990 and Atal Behari Vajpayee in 1999 were sworn in at the sprawling forecourt.
Modi meets Shah, gives final touches to Govt formation
ON the eve of his swearing-in for a second term, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday held a marathon meeting with BJP President Amit Shah as he gave final touches to the shape of his Government, which is likely to have representation from most allies and showcase the party’s new-found strength in different regions. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s decision to opt out on health grounds has fuelled speculation about who will get the coveted portfolio with Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, who filled in for Jaitley and presented the populist pre-election budget, being seen as a key contender. There is also a buzz about Shah, who has been elected to Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar and is a key architect of his party’s landslide win, joining the Government. If Shah joins the Modi Cabinet, he is likely to get one of the four major portfolios; Finance, Home, Defence or External Affairs. The BJP has refrained from making any official comment about the likely members of the Government, with its leaders insisting that it is the Prime Minister’s prerogative. Senior party leaders like Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Nirmala Sitharaman, Narendra Singh Tomar, Prakash Javadekar, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Dharmendra Pradhan and Smriti Irani, who defeated Congress President Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, are likely to join the second Modi Government after being its members in its first avatar. BJP allies like Shiv Sena, JD(U), AIADMK, LJP, Akali Dal and Apna Dal are also set to be represented in the Government. Parties like Sena and JD(U) may get two berths as they are the largest constituents of the ruling National Democratic Alliance after the BJP, while others may get one berth each.
Modi meets Jaitley after he recuses from being Minister
HOURS after Arun Jaitley announced decision not to seek a ministerial position in Modi 2.0 Government due to health reasons, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday visited him at his residence, a move that reflects the importance attached to the senior leader. Though Modi in his first term as Prime Minister had visited Jaitley’s residence for ‘unofficial’ meetings with groups of senior editors, this is perhaps the first time that he visited the residence of a Minister for an unscheduled engagement. Modi, who along with his new Cabinet are to be sworn-in on Thursday evening, drove to Jaitley’s official residence in the national capital at 850 pm and was with him for close to 25 minutes, officials said.