Amit Shah to get on board Modi Cabinet?

Sources said Mr. Shah is keen on retaining the top party post. However, his presence in the Union Cabinet -- which would tweak the old “one man one post” rule of the BJP -- is also being considered.

Updated - May 30, 2019 01:18 pm IST

Published - May 29, 2019 10:50 pm IST - NEW DELHI

BJP president Amit Shah feeds sweets to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a National Democratic Alliance meeting at the Central Hall of Parliament on May 25, 2019.

BJP president Amit Shah feeds sweets to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a National Democratic Alliance meeting at the Central Hall of Parliament on May 25, 2019.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah held marathon meetings on Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon to finalise the list of the new Council of Ministers to be administered the oath of office on Thursday at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Senior party leader Rajnath Singh, too, met Mr. Modi.

Sources said the issue of what Mr. Shah’s role in the new government would be was also discussed.

The sources said Mr. Shah was keen on retaining the top party post, with several State elections ahead, including Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana, but his presence in the Cabinet, tweaking the old “one man one post” rule of the BJP, was also being considered. Nripendra Mishra, Principal secretary to the Prime Minister, and Additional principal secretary P.K. Mishra were at Mr. Shah’s residence.

Reports indicated that calls to prospective ministers would be made through the night and early morning, for the 7 p.m. swearing-in on Thursday.

The sources said that many of the senior Ministers of the previous government were to be retained. However, no portfolios were discussed. Senior former Ministers like Piyush Goyal, Narendra Singh Tomar and Arjun Ram Meghwal were seen visiting Mr. Shah at his residence but excused themselves from confirming whether they were being made ministers.

Senior leaders said Mr. Modi’s warning at the NDA’s parliamentary party meet on Saturday that discretion on government business was to be maintained meant that most of those called would await official announcements.

NDA allies are expected to get one Cabinet and one Minister of State berth in the Council of Ministers. As for the BJP’s quota, sources did not confirm any names, but added that regional aspirations and the BJP’s own political imperatives with regard to expansion in West Bengal and State elections in Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana were likely to inform the selections from those States. The BJP’s good performance in the southern States of Karnataka and Telangana (the party won four seats, one of them being Nizamabad earlier held by K. Kavitha, daughter of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao) will also be rewarded with ministerial berths.

The ceremony

According to Rashtrapati Bhavan sources, nearly 6,000 invites have been sent in India and abroad for a ceremony that will be attended by several heads of government of BIMSTEC countries, opposition leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, and Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.

Significantly, 50 family members of BJP workers killed in alleged political violence in West Bengal have also been invited, which prompted Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to withdraw her acceptance to attend the ceremony.

Arrangements have been made for a high tea following the ceremony for guests and a dinner for invited VIPs especially international heads of government. Dal Raisina, a speciality of the Rashtrapati Bhavan kitchen, which requires cooking for 48 hours is also on the dinner menu. Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanaswamy said he would be attending the ceremony while his party colleagues and chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh (Kamal Nath), Rajasthan (Ashok Gehlot) and Chhattisgarh (Bhupesh Bhagel) may likely skip it, although apart from Mr. Bhagel, nobody has officially announced this.

Prime Minister Modi will, along with BJP MPs visit the Samadhi of late prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the National War Memorial at India Gate, in the first half of the day.

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