From C K Nayak
NEW DELHI: Talks for formation of the new Union Cabinet of the BJP-led NDA government formally started on Friday even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi met President Ram Nath Kovind and tendered resignation of the entire Council of Ministers, a mere formality before he is sworn in for the next term.
The President has accepted the resignation and requested the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers to continue till the new government assumes office.
Earlier, the Union Cabinet met on Friday and recommended dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha as the Union Council of Ministers tendered their collective resignation, sources said.
They said the first meeting of the alliance’s parliamentary parties will be held at the Central Hall of the Parliament on Saturday while the new Council of Ministers is likely to take oath only on May 30. Modi will be invited to form the next government by the President after the NDA meeting formally elects him as the new leader of the Lok Sabha.
According to reports, some world leaders could be invited for the swearing-in, making it an event bigger than the one in 2014 when heads of governments of SAARC countries were invited.
While Meghalaya Chief Minister and National President of NPP, a constituent of NDA, Conrad Sangma arrived here on Friday night, elected party MP from Tura Agatha Sangma will arrive on Saturday. Both are expected to take part in the NDA meeting.
There will be a brief session of Parliament before which the new MPs will be administered oath by the pro-tem Speaker and the panel of chairmen.
The huge mandate to the BJP-led NDA alliance poses a big challenge for formation of the ministry by Modi. Most of the sitting ministers barring a few have won their seats and are likely to be accommodated again.
The BJP itself has secured 303 seats and its new MPs will also expect berths. From North East, Kiren Rijiju, who was Union Minister of State for Home, is expected to continue and might even be promoted.
Some new faces may find place in the government on account of some ministers — Hardeep Puri, KJ Alphons, Manoj Sinha — having lost in the elections. Smriti Irani is expected to get a bigger job in the new Modi cabinet after her victory in Amethi, where she dethroned Congress president Rahul Gandhi from his family bastion. Modi may also induct new and young faces to carry forward his goal of creating a ‘New India’. Most of the senior ministers like Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari will continue in the new ministry but Finance Minister Arun Jaitley may be relieved on health ground.
The NPP has never had any representative in Modi ministry. Agatha became the youngest ever Union minister in the UPA government’s first term as an NCP MP.
But considering the large number of seats the BJP has won from Assam and Rijiju certain to continue, the slots in the new ministry remain very limited. There are also many other leaders like Assam minister and chief of NEDA Himanta Biswa Sarma and BJP Arunachal Pradesh President Tapir Gao aspiring to be in the cabinet. Sarma, however, is not a Lok Sabha MP.
First of all, the party will have to accommodate its bigger alliance partners at the national level like JD (U) and Lok Tantrik Party from Bihar, Shiv Sena from Maharashtra and Akali Dal from Punjab and similar other parties in bigger states. In that case, junior alliance partners from North East may have to bide their time.