Modis meeting with party elders assumes significance in the wake of speculation over the role of seniors in the the dispensation under him. While sources earlier indicated that Joshi was not averse to joining the government, there were suggestions that Advani may be offered an alternative post speaker of the Lok Sabha.
While several BJP leaders Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje, party general secretaries Ananth Kumar, JP Nadda, Dharmendra Pradhan called on Modi at Gujarat Bhavan, leaders of NDA partners LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan and Naga Peoples Front (NPF) leaders Neiphiu Rio also met Modi. Former Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, too, called on Modi.
Meanwhile, BJP president Rajnath Singh held a meeting with senior party leader Arun Jaitley, and party general secretaries Amit Shah and Ramlal to discuss government formation-related issues.
While party sources remained tight-lipped about the internal deliberations, sources sought to clarify that Modi will have a free hand in choosing his Cabinet and described these meetings as a suggestion-gathering exercise.
Several party leaders on Sunday also dropped in at RSS office at Jhandewalan in the capital to call on top RSS leaders Bhaiyaaji Joshi and Suresh Soni. Those who dropped in at Jhandewalan included former party chief Venkaiah Naidu came in the morning, and senior party leader Sushma Swaraj in the evening. Other senior party leaders like Gopinath Munde and Rajiv Pratap Rudy too dropped in at Jhandewalan through the day.
RSS sources, however, sought to suggest that these were courtesy meetings and most leaders expressed their gratitude for the help provided by local RSS cadres during the elections.
Though party leaders maintained silence over the exact contours of Modis Cabinet, senior party leaders sought to underline adequate representation from all geographical reasons of the country either from the party MPs or the alliance partners. Once this is certain, the geographical representation for the party will be ensured to deepen partys presence even in those areas where our vote shares went up but we did not manage that many seats, confided a senior party leader. Party leaders, in this context suggested that while Modi will have a final call on the issue of senior leaders he will factor in suggestion from party organisations feedback on representation from different states.
Party leaders, in this backdrop, sought to suggest competition among MPs from north-east to get a representation in Modi Cabinet. While former Lok Sabha MP PA Sangma who has pledged his support to BJP remains a contender, the fact the Nagaland MP Neiphiu Rio has decided to quit his chief ministership to represent the state in Parliament makes him another contender for the ministry with partys newly-elected MP from Arunachal Pradesh Kiren Rijeju also being a claimant with partys seven MPs from Assam that include senior party leader Bijoya Chakravarty and state unit chief Sarbananda Sonowal.
While the party has a delegation of 17 MPs from Karnataka in southern India, partys lone MP from Tamil Nadu Pon Radhakrishnan appears a frontrunner to bag a berth with alliance partner PMK leader A Ramadoss being another contender from Tamil Nadu. Modi, however, will have to struggle to make a choice from Karnataka where former chief minister Yeddyurappas views may hold importance given his return has helped BJP mininise its losses in the state. Modi, in this context, will also have to strike a balance between alliance partner TDPs share in the government along with partys three members from Andhra Pradesh that include senior party leaders Bandaru Dattatreya (Secundrabad in Telangana) and K Haribabu (Visakhapatnam in Seemandhra). Likewise, partys lone MP from Odisha Jual Oram, who is also a tribal is likely to find a place in the government, party leaders indicated.
While state chief ministers may have a say in potential choices to the government from Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan where the party is in power, party leaders suggested that Modi will have to strike a balance in Maharashtra given the demands from Shiv Sena as well as friction between the rival factions of Nitin Gadkari and Gopinath Munde in the state that also goes to polls later this year.
However, party leaders suggested that the biggest challenge for Modi and the BJP is to accommodate party MPs from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar that together have sent a contingent of 93 members. While most senior leaders from these two states hail from upper castes, the challenge for the party is to accommodate backward leaders as well given the support from these communities to the party during the elections.
Party leaders, in this context, underlined that senior party leaders meeting with RSS leaders ahead of the election results were a stock taking exercise to assess the contribution of individual leaders in partys electoral prospects and support of various groups to the party to identify potential names that should be rewarded for helping the BJPs stellar performance across the state.
While the party maintains that it will announce the exact date of oath taking only after May 20 when Modi is formally elected leader of BJP parliamentary party, sources said that party was considering outdoor ceremony for a larger audience. However, party leaders suggested that these things still need to be firmed up after May 20.