Modi 3.0: BJP likely to keep top ministries

New Delhi: Two days after Lok Sabha election results denied a clear majority to the BJP, its allies in NDA have started bargaining hard for plum posts at the Centre.
The BJP, however, is not in the mood to let go of key miniseries and roles, sources have said. With the single largest party well short of the magic figure, NDA allies are now on a tight deadline to reach a consensus as plans are afoot to hold the swearing in ceremony of the third Narendra Modi government this weekend.

The four allies whose support is critical for the BJP to reach majority are N Chandrabau Naidu’s TDP, which has won 16 seats, Nitish Kumar’s JDU (12), Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena (7) and Chirag Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party-Ram Vilas (5).

N Chandrababu Naidu and Nitish Kumar, both coalition-era veterans, have emerged kingmakers in this election and are learnt to have demanded plum roles at the Centre for their support.

TDP, it is learnt, has also sought the Lok Sabha Speaker’s post, while JDU sources said they may press for a Common Minimum Programme for the NDA government and hope that a coordination committee formed for its implementation is led by Nitish Kumar.

The BJP, sources said, is not ready to give away the Speaker’s role and TDP may be offered a Deputy Speaker post. JDU holds the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman post anyway.

There is another big change. The Narendra Modi governments formed after the 2014 and 2019 elections had only symbolic representation of allies because the BJP had absolute majority on its own. But this time, the BJP may have to distribute ministerial berths in proportion to seats won by each ally.

The BJP, however, is not keen on accommodating allies in four key ministries that come under the Cabinet Committee on Security — defence, finance, home affairs and external affairs.

The BJP will also not want to let go of portfolios that are critical to its infrastructure push, such as road transport and highways, or its welfare agenda.
Among the BJP’s promises in the run-up to the election was support to four “castes” identified by Prime Minister Modi — the poor, women, youth and farmers. The BJP will be looking to retain control in portfolios relating to these groups.

Construction of roads and highways in the past 10 years of Narendra Modi government has received appreciation.
Led by Nitin Gadkari, this push has enhanced connectivity to remote areas. The BJP would not want to lose momentum by giving charge to one of its allies, sources said.

Another key portfolio is the Railways. While JDU sources have said they are keen to get the Railways ministry charge, held by Nitish Kumar in the past, voices in the BJP argue that key reforms are underway in this sector and any disruption may stall them.

In the past two Narendra Modi governments, allies received roles in relatively low-key portfolios such as food processing and heavy industries.

But this time, the BJP may have to agree to some of its allies’ demands, as they do not have a majority on their own.

According to sources, JDU may be offered portfolios such as Panchayati Raj, Rural Development, while TDP may get civil aviation and steel. The BJP may, however, try to accommodate allies’ MPs in Minister of State roles in big-ticket ministries such as Finance and Defence.

Other portfolios the BJP may be open to handing over to portfolios include tourism, skill development, science and technology and earth sciences. (Courtesy NDTV)

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