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Modi set to take oath, begin 3rd term today

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NEW DELHI, June 8: Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi is set to take oath on Sunday for a third straight term, equalling the feat of first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, as the head of a coalition government after two full tenures in which the BJP enjoyed a majority on its own.
Hectic parleys involving BJP leadership and allies were on over the share of berths of different constituents of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the new government.
Senior BJP leaders such as Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh besides party president J P Nadda have been consulting the allies, including Telugu Desam Party’s N Chandrababu Naidu, JD(U)’s Nitish Kumar and Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde, to finalise their share of representation in the government.
There is a view that heavyweight portfolios like home, finance, defence and external affairs besides education and culture, two ministries with strong ideological hues, will be kept by the BJP, while its allies can get anywhere between five to eight cabinet berths.
While leaders like Shah and Singh are seen within the party as a certainty in the new Cabinet, former chief ministers who have won the Lok Sabha polls like Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Basavaraj Bommai, Manohar Lal Khattar and Sarbananda Sonowal are strong contenders for joining the government.
Ram Mohan Naidu of the TDP, Lalan Singh, Sanjay Jha and Ram Nath Thakur of the JD(U), and Chirag Paswan of the Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) are among the allies who may be a part of the new government, sources said, adding that either Singh or Jha will be accommodated from the JD(U) quota.
Maharashtra, where the BJP-Shiv Sena-NCP alliance has fared poorly, and Bihar, where the opposition has shown signs of revival, may be in the focus during the government-formation exercise.
Assembly polls are due in the western state in October, while polls will be held in Bihar next year.
Impending changes within the BJP’s organisation will also be on the mind of its brain trust in finalising the names of ministers from the party.
Nadda’s term was extended due to the Lok Sabha polls, and organisational imperatives will be an important consideration for the party as the poll results have sent signals that all may not be well within its vast machinery. This opens the possibility of some seasoned hand being sent to the party and Nadda being given a berth in the government, the sources said.
The desertion by a section of voters, especially from the Scheduled Castes and other deprived sections of society, may also be a guiding factor in government formation even though Modi had made a point to increase their relative representation in his outgoing term.
Nehru is the only prime minister who held the post after three consecutive elections after independence.
The BJP is keen to send out a message of continuity and ward off any impression of political vulnerability following its surprising below-par show in the Lok Sabha polls as its seat tally fell to 240 from 303, considerably short of the majority mark of 272. (PTI)

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