With victory in sight, the initial huddles among the top brass of the Bharatiya Janata Party have begun to line up probable candidates for probable prime minister Narendra Modi's new Union cabinet of ministers.
Going by the trend he set in Gujarat where Modi kept a slew of major departments with the chief minister's office, the new Union Cabinet could be a good deal leaner than has been seen in recent years.
Reports suggest that a BJP-led government is likely to reduce the number of ministries. And, contrary to previous reports on technocrats taking centre stage in the Cabinet, it now appears that select experts could be appointed as junior ministers.
According to a report in The Economic Times, cabinet ministers will be the political heavyweights from NDA partners. Arun Jaitley, the report said, is likely to get the finance portfolio, even if he does not win in Amritsar where he contested against former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh.
According to the report, "Rajnath Singh, the party president, could be the next home or defence minister if he decides to give up the party role. The final choice would be left to Singh, said the people cited earlier. Sushma Swaraj, the leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, would also get one of the top four portfolios. Her choice of portfolio is linked to that of Singh, i.e.- if the BJP president opts for home, then Swaraj could get defence."
This is unless former party president Nitin Gadkari, who held talks with Modi the very day after the exit polls and appeared to be angling for a significant role in the new dispensation, Gadkari is also a possible contender for the defence ministry, in which eventuality Swaraj could get external affairs. Ravi Shankar Prasad is the frontrunner for the law ministry.
As Firstpost's Editor-in-Chief R Jagannathan suggested earlier, the names include many faces from the Vajpayee Cabinet.
"The only faces from Vajpayee's NDA who will not be there are LK Advani and Jaswant Singh. Advani, for obvious reasons, cannot work under his protégé, and Jaswant has been shown the door," he noted.
Among the technocrats, former DMRC managing director E Sreedharan, credited with much of Delhi Metro's success, could be MoS Railways, while economist Arvind Panagariya is tipped to become chairman of the PM's Economic Advisory Council.
As the buzz grows around the likely contours of Modi's ministry, there is also speculation on whether his right hand man in Gujarat, former minister of state for Home in Gujarat and also in-charge of the BJP's campaign in the key state of Uttar Pradesh, Amit Shah will get a look in.
There have been reports in the past that Shah may want to move to Delhi and could be accommodated in the Vadodara seat which will go for a bypoll if Modi wins in Vadodara as well as in Varanasi. This Business Standard report suggests that Shah probably will not find a berth in the Cabinet, despite whispers in the recent past that Shah could become MoS in the prime minister's office.
"The party wants him to devote his time to prepare for a series of difficult Assembly elections by the end of this year, in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand, and in Bihar in early 2015," the report said.
The anticipated gains for the party in Uttar Pradesh this election are largely attributed to Shah's strategising and leadership. Only on Tuesday, Shah said he expects the BJP to win 55 seats out of the 80 Lok Sabha MPs the state elects. In 2009, this tally for the BJP was 10.
Simultaneously, there is also a race for positions in the Rajya Sabha -- some reports suggested Shah could be accommodated there, but the Business Standard said among the frontrunners are Subramaniam Swamy and MJ Akbar.
So, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade could be withdrawn from the ministry of Commerce and merged with the External Affairs Ministry. Ministry of Corporate Affairs could be absorbed with the Finance Ministry.
There is also speculation on whether Sushma Swaraj, who was vocal with her opposition to some decisions made by Modi during the campaign including the decision to let B Sreeramulu of Karnataka into the party fold, will have to wait longer. Some reports suggested she could be elected Lok Sabha Speaker, other reports said LK Advani would insist on a major portfolio for her.
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Updated Date: May 14, 2014 15:42:35 IST