Possible Ministers and agenda of Modi government – assembly elections in offing?

By Sarkaritel May 17, 2014 08:11

Possible Ministers and agenda of Modi government – assembly elections in offing?

By TN Ashok

New Delhi, May 17 : Counting in the 2014 general elections is reaching its final stages and leads clearly establish that the Modi led BJP led NDA will sweep the polls wresting states such as UP, Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat , Maharashtra and Chattisgarh taking the front to the magical figure of 335 to govern with ease after nearly 23 years of coalition politics.

Speculation has started on who is who of the Modi cabinet which is likely to be lean and thin and tight unlike the airbus cabinet of “Dr Manmohan Singh which had to accommodate the interests of all its allies in the UPA.

Modi is likely to appoint his super campaign manager Amit Shah, who turned the fortunes of BJP in the most crucial states of UP and Bihar into spectacular success decimating the regional parties such as the SP and BSP in UP and the ruling JD(U) in Bihar , as the minister of state in the Prime Ministers Office even as he hands over the baton of Gujarat to his trusted lieutenant Anandi Behen Patel, the revenue minister, the likely CM of the state.

The buccaneer and maverick of Indian polity in recent times, Modi, who tightened his grip in his home state Gujarat for three terms since 2002, has to balance the interests of aspiring youngsters and frustrated seniors while handing over key portfolios while forming his cabinet for good governance which he has promised to the people.

Known for his clear strategies, it’s clear, Modi will reward Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj, though the latter is not openly acknowledging his singular contribution to the BJP sweep, for their performance  in parliament while upping the campaign against the Congress before the elections on issues of corruption and ineffective governance.

Jaitley might have lost to Amarinder Singh in Punjab, the only state in the country, insulated against the Modi charisma and wave across the country, but is already a member of the Rajya Sabha. Amit Shah has openly said in an interview in AAJ TAK that Jaitley would be rewarded with a good portfolio not withstanding his loss in Amritsar.

Speculation is rife that Jaitley might either become the Finance Minister or the External Affairs Minister while Sushma Swaraj could become the Defence Minister or the External Affairs Minister. Obviously the all-powerful portfolio of home ministry could go to the party chief Rajnath Singh, a political heavy weight who was former CM of UP, and the chief supporter of Modi’s candidature for prime ministership.

Ruddy Pratap Rudy , who has won with a comfortable margin in Bihar, could be the country’s next Civil Aviation Minister and party’s fund raiser Nitin Gadkari could become the minister for a newly created portfolio of infrastructure that includes power, oil and gas and steel or simply the power minister.

Massive representation to Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra in the Cabinet

Since the industrialists of Gujarat have supported Modi to the hilt its obvious the infrastructure portfolios would go to winners from Gujarat and Maharashtra only, political observers say.

It appears to be a foregone conclusion that A K Doval , former IB chief under the then BJP PM Vajpayee, who now heads the BJP think tank at Vivekananda Centre for International Studies, would be the National Security Advisor.

What happens to the patriarch leader of BJP Lal Krishan Advani? The much speculated post of speaker of Lok Sabha may not actually come through as he is far too high in stature for that post. It appears that he might be made either the Chairman of the NDA front or the Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Council, the highest decision making body in the government.

Since Karnataka has produced a more than satisfactory verdict, both Yedurappa and Ananthkumar will find important portfolios in the cabinet. It could be coal, steel or water resources or agriculture coming their way. Likewise since Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan has given spectacular support, their represetntatives will get key portfolios.

Modi needs performers in the cabinet to match his aggressive style of functioning of quick decisions and fixing problems then and there. His main challenge would be: Fix inflation particularly food inflation, revive industrial growth and GDP growth rate to near 7%, boost foreign investment which had ebbed following policy paralysis in the end stages of the UPA government.  Actually stock markets had been on the upswing ever since Modi launched a fierce campaign to seize power at the centre — foreign investors had poured in US $ 16 billion in the last four months itself into key portfolios in the bourses to take their investments to a record US $ 280 million.

Lack numbers in RS a concern – state assembly elections could be in offing

Another area of concern for the Modi government is their lack of numbers in the Rajya Sabha. The only way this can be set right is to increase the numbers from the state assemblies. Maharashtra goes to polls in September and Modi’s government would be tighten its hold in the assembly cashing in on the wave in the Lok Sabha for the BJP-SS combine by ousting the Congress NCP combine.

Since the JD(U) blundered in breaking its alliance with the BJP in Bihar, Modi’s focus would be on how to take Bihar under his fold. While the BJP is not likely to destabilise the government, but efforts would be on to defeat the JD(U) regime  of Nitish Kumar on the floor of the house.

Similarly Uttarakhand, Jharkhand could turn turtle any time to give the BJP the numbers they want in the Rajya Sabha through fresh elections. Delhi is another state where elections seem imminent since BJP has virtually routed the AAP by winning all seven lok sabha seats.

There is also speculation that the cabinet would have a politician as the cabinet minister for making policy decisions and a bureaucrat or a technocrat as the minister of state would take care of the nitty gritties of policies and implementation. In this connection , political circles are agog with reports that both Sreedharan, who made the Delhi Metro a grand success as also the Konkan Railway, could be the new railway minister. And Deepak Parikh , former HDFC chief, could become the minister of state for finance.

The Reserve Bank Governor, Dr Raghuram Rajan is not likely to be disturbed since has been doing a good job keeping a tight leash on inflation and preventing the Rupee from running away to new lows against the US Dollar.

By Sarkaritel May 17, 2014 08:11