Modi's cabinet to have at least 50 ministers
Kumar Vikram | Mail Today | New Delhi, May 24, 2014
Lodged at Gujarat Bhawan in the Capital, Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi has been spending his days screening CVs of NDA parliamentarians to pick the best possible candidates for his Council of Ministers.
With the help of a team of experts, Modi is examining the background details of each potential candidate as well as looking into their business interests to ensure a council devoid of corrupt leaders.
"While allocating portfolios, the business interests of each of the MPs will also be considered. The upcoming government wants to send out a clear message that its council of ministers will be taint-free," a BJP leader said. Speculation suggests Modi is also looking to induct some talented technocrats.
Sources say, as part of the selection process, Modi and his team have studied the governance models of several countries. As he prepares to take charge as India's 15th Prime Minister, Modi is reportedly aiming for a compact Council of Ministers with 50 members at the most - no more than 20 Cabinet ministers and probably about 30 ministers of state. The ministerial council of the outgoing UPA has 72 members.
There will most likely be one Cabinet minister in charge of a super-ministry with junior ministers reporting to him and looking after different aspects. It will also lower the unnecessary government expenditure.
Modi has signalled from day one that he alone would pick his ministers, and that his colleagues and the Sangh Parivar would at best be approached for suggestions and consultations.
"One thing is clear, that the party has won under the leadership of Modi, and only he will decide the portfolio allocation. The party has got a clear majority in the Lok Sabha and it is not worried about adjusting allies. It is true that at least three allies will be given portfolios, but there will not be any compromise," a party leader said.
While there are long queues of visitors at Gujarat Bhawan, a party insider said Modi has made it clear that lobbyists, whether from within the BJP or outside, will not be entertained.
"There are many who want to meet Modi at Gujarat Bhawan. But there is a strict order that parliamentarians or any influential lobbyist should not be allowed. Entry is banned for all except party leaders and government officials summoned by Modi," a BJP insider said.
According to the insider, several MPs were forced to return from the gate of Gujarat Bhawan after they arrived without seeking an appointment first. When they sought one, there was no response.
Riding on the mantra of good governance and all-round development, BJP stormed into power under the leadership of Modi by winning a record 282 seats in Parliament. Now, Modi is reportedly going all out to keep his word and is thus involved in each nittygritty of government formation. He has already met senior government officials, including home and Cabinet secretary, at Gujarat Bhawan and asked for suggestions on important work that needs to be done on a priority basis.
NDA allies vie for their share of victory pie in Modi's Cabinet
At a time when the government formation exercise is reaching a crescendo following Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi's return to the National Capital from Gujarat, the BJP allies are engaged in intense lobbying for key Cabinet portfolios.
Though the BJP is in a majority in the Lok Sabha, as many as 11 party allies have helped the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) reach the mark of 336 seats.
Among these allies, the seats of Shiv Sena and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) are in double digits and they now want a substantial share in the compact Cabinet of Modi.
Though the partners are aware that Modi wants to keep his ministry small, in keeping with his motto of "less government, more governance", they still want a better deal for themselves, sources said. Sources said Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will reach New Delhi on May 26 and he may meet Modi to discuss his party's share in the Cabinet.
In the recently-concluded elections, the Shiv Sena, a long-time BJP ally, won 18 of the 48 seats in Maharashtra. The BJP, under the leadership of Modi, put up a stunning performance and the Shiv Sena-BJP combine won 41 seats in the state. The party sends the second largest contingent of MPs to the Lok Sabha. Sources said Thackeray wants four or five ministers from his party to be included in the Cabinet.
Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu will meet Modi and other top BJP leaders in New Delhi on Sunday to decide on the Cabinet berths for his MPs. The following day he will attend the swearing-in ceremony and return to Hyderabad, sources said.
Naidu, who will soon swear in as the Andhra Pradesh chief minister, will reach the Capital on Saturday night.
Sources claimed the TDP hopes to secure at least four berths in the Cabinet, but the list of aspirants appears to be long. The party has six MPs in the Rajya Sabha, including two from Telangana, and 16 were elected to the Lok Sabha.
Similarly, the LJP led by Ram Vilas Paswan may be given a berth. His party won six seats. The LJP, which left the BJP-led alliance soon after the 2002 Gujarat riots, came back to the NDA recently, citing that there is no evidence to prove that Modi played a role in the violence.
Sources said the BJP will have to entertain Paswan's requests as he is a Dalit.
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