Indian Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and the Natioal Democratic Alliance (NDA) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi prostrates after arriving on the first step of the Parliament building in New Delhi, yesterday. India's prime minister-elect Narendra Modi choked back tears and promised to try to live up to expectations as he made his first visit to parliament since his sweeping election victory. Photo: AFP
The BJP leadership made some progress in settling top slots in the next Indian government with party chief Rajnath Singh tipped to be the home minister while senior leader Arun Jaitley could be the next finance minister.
While a degree of clarity is emerging on ministry formation, the BJP is yet to resolve its dilemma over veteran leader L K Advani as the leader's apparent inclination to be Lok Sabha Speaker is not finding many takers.
The hunt for a suitably distinguished post for Advani has not met with much success and the party leadership is unclear how to define the saffron elder's role and work out an arrangement where he can be a mentor.
With Rajnath and Jaitley expected to occupy two key slots in the cabinet committee on security (CCS), PM-designate Narendra Modi is still left with the tough task of filling the two other CCS slots, external affairs and defence.
Sushma Swaraj, who was Leader of Opposition in the 15th Lok Sabha, is keen on a CCS berth, but there are doubts if Modi will be keen to accommodate her.
Though Swaraj is certain to be offered an important portfolio — HRD and health were referred to — her lack of enthusiasm for Modi's PM candidature may have weakened her claim to a seat at the ministerial highest table.
Among allies, LJP leader Ramvilas Paswan is certain to get an important portfolio, keeping in mind the assessment that the alliance helped the BJP gain a solid edge over rival RJD-Congress and JD(U).
Modi held substantial discussions with Jaitley and BJP general secretary Amit Shah in Gujarat Bhawan where he is staying.
Though Shah is not expected to join the government, he is likely to play a very major role in the new government's political management while also being a major influence in the BJP organization.
The problem of a thin bench could be hampering Modi and BJP's top leaders in arriving at a decision on who should be external affairs and defence ministers.
While the external affairs portfolio is closely aligned with PMO, defence needs a minister capable of rebooting stalled modernization plans and also displaying an appetite for strategic planning and geo-politics.
There could, however, be a new element in Modi's approach to external affairs as he seems keen to reduce its bureaucratization and increase the trade and commerce element in foreign policy.