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HindustanTimes Wed,03 Sep 2014

Will prefer winners as ministers, Modi tells party leaders

Kumar Uttam, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 15, 2014
First Published: 23:42 IST(15/5/2014) | Last Updated: 00:14 IST(16/5/2014)

The BJP’s PM nominee Narendra Modi has told party leaders that he will prefer to “invest” in leaders with the potential to win elections by inducting them into his council of ministers.

The Modi mantra, spelt out during discussions with party leaders during the past two days, is to induct as many Lok Sabha– and not Rajya Sabha – members as possible to his ministry.

“This appears to be the guiding principle that’ll drive decisions in the first instance,” a BJP leader told HT, pointing that Modi, of course, would take other factors also into account.

Already, the party was veering round to the view that veteran LK Advani could be offered the Lok Sabha Speaker’s post, instead of another veteran, Karia Munda from Jharkhand. At his meetings with the leaders, Advani has already indicated his willingness to accept such a proposition.

Read: Speculations over BJP offering speaker post to Advani

It was at one such meeting with BJP president Rajnath Singh on Thursday that Advani was requested to help bring Sushma Swaraj on board. The party’s woman face, Swaraj, is reportedly upset over being cold-shouldered by the new leadership anchored in Gujarat.

While Swaraj dismissed such reports, she made it clear to the party that she wanted to join the Modi government on her terms -- with important portfolios, such as defence or external affairs.

There is, however, no clarity yet on possible role Swaraj may be offered, as it’s still being discussed by the party and the RSS.

What’s more, Modi made it clear that even if the NDA gets majority, he would like to have more allies to reach the half-way mark in the 245-member Rajya Sabha. At present, the NDA has just about 60 RS members and could face problems getting its legislative decisions through.

This is the reason why Modi is open to accepting new allies even at the cost of conceding some portfolios to it. “The prospective allies will be formally approached after May 16. Some of them may not join the government, but provide support from outside,” a top BJP leader said.

Read: AK-49 jibe to poll-day selfie: top 20 Modi moments this poll season

While the Biju Janata Dal has six MPs in the RS, the Indian National Lok Dal, a former ally from Haryana, has two members. Also, at least two independent members and one MP of the Nagaland Peoples’ Front may also support the NDA. The AIADMK, with 10 MPs and the Nationalist Congress Party with six members are also being viewed as potential allies.

The BJP is also eyeing support from the People’s Democratic Party of J&K. Although it doesn’t have a Rajya Sabha presence, its support could help make the BJP acceptable to the minorities in future.

Nearly a dozen states, including Bihar, Maharashtra, Bengal, Assam, J&K, Delhi and Haryana are going to polls in the next few years.


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