New Delhi: For the past two days, Amit Shah, the BJP chief credited with decimating the opposition by commandeering his party’s campaign, remained extremely busy. The attendance at his residence on 11 Akbar Road was unusually but expectedly high.
After the massive victory in the Lok Sabha election, BJP chief Shah has met Prime Minister Narendra Modi every day. In each meeting lasting more than three hours, they discussed the formation of the Cabinet and the rest of the council of ministers.
On Wednesday, even senior BJP leaders were not sure how the prime minister would exercise his prerogative. Those who claimed to be close to the leadership hazarded varied guesses about the portfolio allocation.
Amid this, the look of BJP chief Shah’s residence bore some resemblance with that of Gujarat Bhawan, where then PM-elect Modi was staying, after the 2014 election results.
Among those who met Shah was Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Union ministers in the outgoing government Narendra Singh Tomar and Arjun Ram Meghwal.
The prime minister’s principal secretary Nripendra Mishra and additional principal secretary PK Mishra met with the BJP chief, too. Their brief was to discuss the preparations for the swearing-in ceremony of this evening.
According to sources, between 50 and 60 ministers will be sworn in today into the Modi Cabinet. Out of these, between eight and 10 ministers will be from BJP’s allies in the NDA. The rule dictates that 15% of the strength of MPs can be ministers. According to the strength of the Lok Sabha MPs, the number is derived to be 81.
One may recall that a section of the supporters of Modi who had liked his election slogan of “minimum government, maximum governance” in 2014 was disappointed by the size of his council of ministers in the last dispensation. However, it may be noted that a small government does not necessarily mean a small group of ministers. The size of a government is measured also by its reach. If for every act of citizens, they need to obtain the government’s permission, or if the laws are too intrusive, affecting people’s personal lives and also private businesses, it is called a big government. The previous government can be said to have been small for the fact that it abolished more than 1,000 archaic laws, mostly affecting retail businesses, with the help of coordination between State governments and NITI Aayog. The outgoing Modi government also stayed aloof when the Supreme Court decided to re-interpret Section 377, decriminalising homosexuality. In the apex court, the attorney general, under instructions from the government, did not counter the arguments of petitioners who were fighting for the human rights of the LGBT community.
West Bengal and Odisha may get more ministers this time. Apart from this, in view of the upcoming Assembly elections in Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana this year, these States may get more than a proportionate representation.
President Ram Nath Kovind will administer the oath of office and that of secrecy to Prime Minister-elect Modi and his council of ministers.
At the oath-taking ceremony, the heads of the seven countries of BIMSTEC: Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan. BIMSTEC stands for Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation. Its permanent secretariat was opened in Dhaka in 2014.