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New Modi Cabinet Likely to See Same Old Faces

New Modi Cabinet Likely to See Same Old Faces

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, June 9: Refusing to relent under pressure from the allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) who have assumed significant importance to run the new government in the absence of the BJP securing a clear majority on its own, the indications are that the Narendra Modi 3.0 cabinet will by and large look the same except a few new entrants the prime minister-designate has been forced to take.

Ahead of taking oath along with his council of ministers later in the evening, Mr Modi invited a battery of senior leaders over tea on Sunday morning and the BJP sources said most of those who were present at the prime minister’s residence were those to be inducted in the cabinet and would take oath with Mr Modi.

The party sources also confirmed that not only most of the senior BJP ministers were to be retained in the Modi 3.0 cabinet, most of them would also be holding the same portfolio that they were handling in the Modi 2.0 cabinet when the BJP was enjoying a brute majority on its own with 303 members in the 543-Member Lok Sabha though he had allotted a few junior ministries to some of its alliance partners, particularly Apna Dal in Uttar Pradesh and Republican Party of India (A) Ramdas Athwale in Maharashtra.

The decisions on the new cabinet were taken after a marathon 11-hour meeting at the Prime Minister’s residence yesterday. Amit Shah, BJP chief JP Nadda and the party’s national general secretary (organisation) BL Santhosh were present at the meeting.

The sources said as per the indications, Mr Amit Shah is likely to continue with home, Mr Rajnath Singh defence, Ms Nirmala Sitharaman finance, Dr S Jaishankar external affairs, Mr Nitin Gadkari highways and transport, Mr Jyotiraditya Scindia with civil aviation and Mr Ashwini Vaishnaw with railways.

Mr Sarbananda Sonowal, Mr Kiren Rijiju, Mr Prahlad Joshi, Mr Giriraj Singh, Mr Gajendra Sekhawat, Mr Dharmendra Pradhan, Mr Hardeep Singh Puri and most other BP ministers in the outgoing cabinet who have returned to the Lok Sabha are also expected to be re-inducted in the cabinet and retain the same portfolios as far as possible. The new entrants from the BJP in the cabinet are expected to be the former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his former Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar, as well as Mr JP Nadda whose extended term as the BJP national president is due to end next month. Only notables missing in the new list included Smriti Irani, who lost the elections, Mr Anurag Thakur and Mr Narayan Rane, the sources said.

The sources said a 48-member cabinet headed by Mr Modi would be sworn-in by the president Droupadi Murmu at the Rashtrapatil Bhavan on Sunday evening, and the list of 47 ministers to take the oath included 10 from the alliance partners and the remaining from BJP. But most of the new ministers joining the cabinet representing the Telegu Desam Party (TDP), the Janata Dal (United) and Shiv Sena (Eknah Shinde) and the one-man representatives like Chirag Paswan, HD Kumarswamy, Jitan Ram Manjhi, Anupriya Patel, Jayant Choudhary, Ramdas Athwale and several others may have to be contended with insignificant portfolios. The Ajit Pawar faction of the Nationalist Congress Party, which had only MP, is learnt to have decided to stay away from joining the ministry as the BJP refused to concede its demand for a cabinet berth and was offered only a minister of state.

Many of the TDP and the JD(U) leaders have already started staying that their main interests in supporting the Modi government was to get special status for their respective states which would ensure additional financial assistance from the centre to Andhra Pradesh and Bihar for development. They apparently have digested the BJP leadership’s refusal to part with key ministries or even concede their demands for four or three cabinet berths.

Sources said two MPs each from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the BJP in Andhra Pradesh, where the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) won 21 out of 25 Lok Sabha seats, will take oath. Several leaders, including TDP’s Ram Mohan Naidu, Pemmasani Chandrashekhar, and JD(S)‘ H.D. Kumaraswamy are expected in the new cabinet as all of them were seen present at Mr Modi’s tea party.

Top leaders from India’s neighbourhood and the Indian Ocean region, including Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu, Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ and Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe, arrived in Delhi on Sunday to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi and the Union Council of Ministers. Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth and his Bhutanese counterpart Tshering Tobgay have also reached Delhi. Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina and Vice-President of Seychelles Ahmed Afif have arrived in Delhi on Saturday. Among the foreign leaders, Mr Muizzu’s visit has assumed greater significance as it came against the backdrop of the ties between India and the Maldives witnessing significant strain.



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