Riding high on positive exit poll predictions, the Bharatiya Janata Party has got into “government-formation mode’’ but is yet to decide the roles to be played by veteran leaders like L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi in the new dispensation.
“As far as the roles of the veteran leaders are concerned, I will call a party meeting to which they will be invited. After thorough discussions with them, we will decide what role will be played by which leader,’’ Mr. Rajnath Singh told journalists at the Ahmedabad airport before heading for Gandhinagar to meet the party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. Former BJP president Nitin Gadkari and senior party leader Arun Jaitley also attended the meeting.
Senior leader Sushma Swaraj is likely to be given one of the top five ministries if the BJP comes to power, informed sources said. Earlier in the day, Ms. Swaraj met Mr. Singh and Mr. Gadkari in Delhi, described as a courtesy call, but did not accompany them to Gandhinagar.
The party will also take a call on the role to be assigned to Dr. Joshi.
Dr. Joshi, along with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Mr. Advani, formed a powerful “triumvirate” that presided over the party affairs for a number of years. Dr. Joshi was said to be sore over the shifting of his Lok Sabha constituency from Varanasi to Kanpur.
Party sources said Mr. Advani, who is already the chairman of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), may be given a substantial role, indicating that Mr. Modi would want to keep the NDA chairman’s position to himself.
“There are also chances that a larger body on the lines of the National Advisory Council (NAC), including the State Chief Ministers, may be created for Mr. Advani to chair,” said party insiders.
Mr. Singh maintained that he had come to meet Mr. Modi and share experiences on the poll campaign. On Mr. Modi’s successor in Gujarat after he moved to New Delhi, Mr. Singh said: “You will get to know.”
In Delhi, party leaders remained tight-lipped about the meeting in Gandhinagar. Party sources said the final decisions on post-poll alliances and who will get what will depend on Friday’s results.
Indications are that the party brass also discussed charting out a road map for post-May 16 scenario.
The BJP president, too, downplayed the meetings saying the decision would be taken by the party collectively after a meeting of the party brass.
He also ruled out any replacement of Mr. Modi as the prime ministerial candidate if the BJP failed to get the numbers.