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Modi meets Shah, gives final touches to govt formation


Press Trust of India New Delhi
On the eve of his swearing-in for a second term, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday held a marathon meeting with BJP president Amit Shah as he gave final touches to the shape of his government, which is likely to have representation from most allies and showcase the party's newfound strength in different regions.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's decision to opt out on health grounds has fuelled speculation about who will get the coveted portfolio with Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, who filled in for Jaitley and presented the populist pre-election budget, being seen as a key contender.
There is also a buzz about Shah, who has been elected to Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar and is a key architect of his party's landslide win, joining the government.
If Shah joins the Modi cabinet, he is likely to get one of the four major portfolios; finance, home, defence or external affairs.
The BJP has refrained from making any official comment about the likely members of the government, with its leaders insisting that it is the prime minister's prerogative.
Senior party leaders like Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Nirmala Sitharaman, Narendra Singh Tomar, Prakash Javadekar, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Dharmendra Pradhan and Smriti Irani, who defeated Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, are likely to join the second Modi government after being its members in its first avatar.
Singh also met Modi on Wednesday. Some officials of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) also met Shah on Wednesday at his residence.
The prime minister had held a long meeting with Shah on Tuesday too.
Though External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj did not contest the Lok Sabha elections on health grounds, there is a view within the party that she will also be a part of the new cabinet.
About 60 ministers may take oath.
Some party leaders are of the view that a few leaders from the organisation can also be rewarded with ministerial berths.
If Shah joins the government, then J P Nadda and Bhupender Yadav are seen as top choices for heading the party.
BJP allies like Shiv Sena, JD(U), AIADMK, LJP, Akali Dal and Apna Dal are also set to be represented in the government.
Parties like Sena and JD(U) may get two berths as they are the largest constituents of the ruling National Democratic Alliance after the BJP, while others may get one berth each.
A BJP leader said the government is likely to bear the stamp of the party's impressive show in new regions like West Bengal, Odisha, North East and Telangana.
Modi, he said, may surprise with a few choices, referring to his decision to induct a number of former bureaucrats-turned-BJP leaders like R K Singh and Hardeep Puri in his ministry during his first term.
Some party leaders believe that the prime minister may also induct leaders like Manoj Sinha, who lost the Lok Sabha polls but is seen as one of the "performing" ministers of his first government.

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First Published: May 29 2019 | 9:05 PM IST

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