Modi cabinet aims to win new friends in Rajya Sabha
The Election Commission on Sunday presented to President Pranab Mukherjee the list of the members of the 16th Lok Sabha, following he dissolved the 15th Lok Sabha.
Despite Modi meeting party veteran L K Advani and other party leaders on Sunday, the contours of the next cabinet are yet to be finalised. ‘The PM-designate has not yet formally put his plan before the leaders and was still in consultation mode,’ said a senior party leader pointing towards anxiety among BJP leaders and in media on cabinet formation.
Modi, sources said, prior to putting plans before the party leadership on cabinet formation was keen on ‘roping in’ as many allies as possible and expand the base of National Democratic Alliance to overcome its deficiency in numbers in the Upper House – the Rajya Sabha. In this context he has taken the initiative of opening dialogues with the Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. Jayalalithaa’s Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik, whose Biju Janata Dal was once part of NDA, has also indicated ‘positive’ vibes.
‘We will be positive towards the Centre, and hope that it would respond to the genuine demands of Odisha,’ Patnaik told newspapers in Bhubaneswar on being asked if his party could join the NDA government. Modi has already initiated dialogue with pre-poll ally Chandrababu Naidu of the Telugu Desam Party on government formation. The AIADMK, BJD and the TDP together bring with them 22 Rajya Sabha MPs, which would help NDA match the UPA bloc in the 250 member-upper house.
The Congress as of now has 68 Rajya Sabha MPs against 46 of the BJP. There are at least 81 other MPs who are part of the anti-NDA bloc. ‘Governance has to come through the parliament route. Though we have more than enough numbers in Lok Sabha, we have to work out our presence in Rajya Sabha to ensure our initiatives are not stonewalled in the upper house. Cabinet formation is the best opportunity to win friends outside the alliance,’ added the leader.
Sources said that the BJP’s strategy would be to get all the non-Congress votes to its side to insure isolation of the outgoing ruling party in the upper house. ‘Modi has been indicating even before the polls results came out that he would welcome any party which would come to NDA’s support. Given public sentiment across the country, the non-Congress parties should react positively towards our initiative,’ added the leader.
There are also indications that the cabinet would not be jumbo size. Close Modi-aides like party treasurer Piyush Goyal has said it would ‘least government and maximum governance.’ About 20 others are expected to be sworn in with the prime minister. There is a possibility that there may not be any from the allies quota, who may come in later with the net having spread to the maximum number of parties to the NDA fold, said sources.