Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to take oath for the second term, along with the new council of ministers, on May 30. But before that, he will visit his Varanasi constituency and home state Gujarat. He will be in Varanasi on May 28 and in Gujarat on May 29.
PM Modi on Friday initiated talks with senior ministers and leaders of the allies on formation of the new ministry, hours before the outgoing council recommended the dissolution of the present Lok Sabha, whose term ends on June 3.
Modi, along with BJP President Amit Shah, also called on party veterans Lal Krishna Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi at their respective residences. Both Advani and Joshi did not contest this time and hence they have to vacate government bungalows, but sources said Modi assured them that they can stay there as long as they desire.
According to wire agency Reuters, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is unlikely to continue in his current role due to poor health. “He is definitely not taking the post of the finance minister, simply because he is very unwell,” one of the sources, who did not want to be named, said.
“If at all, he might take up a less stressful role.” Jaitley did not return messages, his mobile phone didn’t ring and his officer on special duty did not respond to calls, mail and messages. Jaitley, who is one of the top three leaders in the BJP and the government, after Modi and Shah, was not seen at the celebrations at the BJP headquarters on Thursday night. Both Modi and Shah gave victory speeches at the event.
He has not been seen in public for at least two weeks but has been publishing blogs and messages on social media. Speculation is rife that Modi may assign the finance ministry to Piyush Goyal (54), the outgoing Railways Minister. Goyal had twice stepped into Jaitley’s shoes when the FM was ill and even presented an interim budget before the elections.
A full budget is due after the new government assumes office and so it is to be seen who presents it — Jaitley or Goyal. Shah, who is credited for the political strategy that helped the party retain its hold on northern and western India and advance in West Bengal, is tipped to be the new home minister in place of Rajnath Singh.
The latter may, in turn, be shifted to agriculture or made the defence minister in place of Nirmala Sitharaman, in view of his seniority in the pecking order. The BJP has a clear majority in the Lok Sabha on its own with 30 more seats than the half-way mark, but PM Modi wants to give representation to the NDA allies.
Among the allies, the Shiv Sena and the JD(U) are likely to be given cabinet berths, as both the parties have done exceedingly well, winning 18 and 16 seats, respectively. The party will also reward new faces from states like West Bengal, Odisha and Telangana where it has made significant inroads.
It is still not clear whether Sushma Swaraj will be accommodated in the Rajya Sabha and continue to be the external affairs minister, since she did not contest the Lok Sabha polls on health grounds. Sitharaman may get her post if she opts out of the new government, though she was among the few ministers who turned up at the BJP HQ on Thursday for the victory celebrations.
Smriti Irani, who is the outgoing Textiles Minister, is likely to be rewarded for slaying Congress’ crown prince Rahul Gandhi in Amethi. Gandhi himself was elected thrice from Amethi. It took Irani just five years to evict him – she ran against him unsuccessfully in 2014, then reversed the trend yesterday