Narendra Modi begins to build his team, sounds off both old and new

Written by Ravish Tiwari | New Delhi | Updated: May 19 2014, 10:31am hrs
Bhartiya Janata Partys Prime Minister designate Narendra Modi met senior leaders on Saturday to discuss government formation as party sources indicated that he would stake claim to form the government on May 22.

He called on L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi separately at their residences in the wake of speculation over their roles in the new dispensation. While sources indicated that Joshi was not averse to joining the government, there were suggestions that Advani may be offered the post of Lok Sabha Speaker.

Sources suggested that Advani would quit as working chairman of the NDA after Modi is elected BJP parliamentary party leader on May 20. Modi, sources said, would stake claim to form the government on May 22, a day after he is felicitated by the Gujarat Assembly. The swearing-in ceremony would be in the following week.

While several BJP leaders including Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, party general secretaries Ananth Kumar, J P Nadda and Dharmendra Pradhan called on Modi at Gujarat Bhavan, leaders of NDA partners like LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan and Naga Peoples Front (NPF) leader Neiphiu Rio also met him. Former Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, too, called on him.

Meanwhile, BJP president Rajnath Singh held a meeting with senior party leader Arun Jaitley and party general secretaries Amit Shah and Ramlal to discuss issues related to government formation.

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 also dropped in at the RSS office in the Capitals Jhandelwalan area on Sunday to meet RSS leaders Bhaiyyaji Joshi and Suresh Soni. These included Venkaiah Naidu, Sushma Swaraj, Gopinath Munde and Rajiv Pratap Rudy.

RSS sources, however, sought to suggest that these were courtesy meetings and most leaders expressed their gratitude for the help provided by 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 regions either from the party or its alliance partners. One thing is certain, the geographical representation for the party will be ensured to deepen the partys presence even in those areas where our vote shares went up but we did not manage that many seats, said a senior leader.

Party leaders suggested that while Modi will take a final call on the issue of senior leaders, he will factor in the organisations feedback on representation from different states.

While it will be relatively easy to decide on the participation from the states where the party does not have many MPs, the tricky areas could be states such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar where the bulk of the MPs are from, Karnataka where Yeddyurappas return ensured a better show and Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra where the party will have to strike a balance between its own MPs and that of its partners.