BJP leaders hold series of meetings with RSS brass
The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, is understood to have made it clear to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) that if the party were to come to power, he would like to have a free hand in taking decisions relating to Cabinet berths and other posts.
Informed sources said this and other issues figured in a series of meetings between the BJP leaders and the RSS brass on Thursday. The day began with party president Rajnath Singh meeting RSS leader Suresh Soni, who is the point person for the BJP in the RSS. This was followed by a slew of meetings to discuss strategy and iron out differences within the party.
Subsequently, the RSS is learnt to have conveyed to the BJP leadership that things should be smoothened out for Mr. Modi and that all sulking leaders should be asked to fall in line. “There may be surprises in store,” a party leader said as the exit poll predictions have boosted the BJP’s confidence.
The sources said senior party leader Sushma Swaraj is likely to be given one of the four key Ministries.
Ms. Swaraj wanted the post of either the Lok Sabha Speaker or the chairperson of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). As the RSS is against “dual power centres,” Mr. Modi would most likely keep the post of NDA chairperson to himself, they said.
While senior party leader Arun Jaitley was tipped to get the Finance portfolio, there were discussions with the RSS on Mr. Rajnath Singh joining the government with the party president’s post going back to his predecessor, Nitin Gadkari.
A Modi-led Cabinet could see Mr. Singh getting the Home or Defence portfolio. Other probables are Ravi Shankar Prasad in the Law Ministry and Ms. Swaraj handling External Affairs.
Senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi, who had held the Human Resource Development portfolio in the previous NDA regime, may be given an important post. There was still no clarity on a role for Amit Shah, who led the party’s campaign in U.P.
Mr. Singh met party patriarch L.K. Advani amid speculation that the veteran leader was being persuaded to accept the Lok Sabha Speaker’s post.
The day-long discussions between the BJP and the RSS also included plans to expand the NDA to shore up its numbers as it would help widen the acceptability of Mr. Modi, they said.