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Who will be in Narendra Modi’s cabinet?

LiveMint logoLiveMint 16-05-2014 Gyan Varma

New Delhi: Having won a clear mandate to form the next government, the task now in front of Narendra Modi is to name his ministerial council.

In fact, expecting his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to perform extraordinarily well in the 16th Lok Sabha elections, Modi had already asked former BJP president Nitin Gadkari to hold discussions with senior party leaders on their choice of ministries, said those in the know of development. The final call will be Modi’s.

Here are the top contenders, according to several BJP leaders who didn’t want to be named:

Sushma Swaraj: Senior BJP leaders said Modi had made it clear that there should be no change in the stature Sushma Swaraj enjoyed as the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha. She will likely get an important portfolio.

Rajnath Singh: The second in line is BJP president Rajnath Singh, who is eyeing a position similar to the one L.K. Advani enjoyed in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet. Advani was deputy prime minister.

Singh, who stood by Modi even as other senior party leaders were opposed to him as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, could also hold an important portfolio in the cabinet such as home ministry or defence ministry.

Even though Singh has categorically said that he wants to remain BJP president, Modi is keen to have him in his cabinet and has already conveyed this to the members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological mentor, said those in the know of development.

Arun Jaitley: A close aide of Modi, Jaitley may have lost the Amritsar election to the Lok Sabha, but he too will likely be among the top four cabinet members. Though leaders of the RSS, the BJP’s ideological parent, are averse to Rajya Sabha members getting ministerial positions, it will allow Modi to choose his cabinet members.

Harsh Vardhan: The former Delhi health minister was also BJP’s chief ministerial candidate in the state assembly elections.

Smriti Irani: The BJP vice-president was chosen to contest against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in the Amethi constituency in Uttar Pradesh.

Piyush Goel: The BJP treasurer helped Modi prepare the party manifesto. The Mumbai-based politician enjoys Modi’s confidence.

Amit Shah: Modi is expected to vacate his Vadodara seat for Shah, one of his most trusted lieutenants, to contest and the senior BJP leader will also be part of the cabinet. Modi is expected to retain his Varanasi Lok Sabha seat.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, Syed Shahnawaz Hussain and Rajiv Pratap Rudy: The three BJP spokespersons were also part of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet. The three have helped Modi form alliances in Bihar.

Ram Vilas Paswan: A prominent cabinet berth is also expected for the Lok Janshakti Party leader, who tied up with the BJP in Bihar, where the alliance is poised to win 28 of the 40 seats the state fills in the Lok Sabha.

Naresh Gujral: From among alliance partners, the Shiromani Akali Dal leader will be a part of Modi’s cabinet because he helped Modi form an alliance with Telugu Desam Party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh. The Telugu Desam Party has performed creditably in the Lok Sabha elections.

Nitin Gadkari: The former BJP president will definitely be part of the new cabinet as he also enjoys the backing of the RSS and is Modi’s bridge to dealing with Sushma Swaraj and other senior party leaders who resisted his elevation to the party’s prime ministerial candidate.

Varun Gandhi and Anurag Thakur: Gandhi and Thakur, sons of senior leader Maneka Gandhi and former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, respectively, are part of the young brigade in the BJP and are also tipped for ministerial roles.

Jayant Sinha: Former finance minister Yashwant Sinha gave up his seat for his son Jayant to contest. A graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi and a Harvard MBA, Sinha was a former managing director and partner at Omidyar Network before returning to India to join politics. He is expected to play a role in the Modi government.

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