Rajat Sharma


AKB Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on Friday unanimously elected leader of National Democratic Alliance parliamentary party at a meeting held at in the Central Hall of old Parliament building. His election as NDA leader paved the way for him to be sworn in a Prime Minister for a historic third consecutive term on Sunday (June 9). Leaders of all NDA allies, including Telugu Desam Party, Janata Dal(U) and others, came to the rostrum to support a resolution moved by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and seconded by Home Minister Amit Shah for electing Modi as NDA parliamentary party leader. TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and leaders of all NDA parties applauded Modi’s performance and extended their support. In his acceptance speech, Modi described the recent victory as a “Maha Vijay” (grand victory) for NDA. He said, the opposition tried to paint the election results as a defeat , “but we didn’t lose, we never lost and we shall never lose”. On the other hand, Modi said, people have rejected what he called “INDI alliance” which was formed to grab power. Modi said, “though Congress-led UPA changed its name, but people knew them for their corruption. Even after changing their name, the country has not forgiven them and rejected them. Because of their one-point agenda of opposing just one individual, the people of India have made them sit in the Opposition…On the other hand, NDA stands for New India, Developed India, Aspirational India….NDA government has been the strongest alliance government in India’s history.” The President has invited Modi to form his government and already preparations are afoot at the Rashtrapati Bhavan for holding the swearing-in ceremony on Sunday. The ceremony will be attended by leaders from most of the neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives. Meanwhile, speculations are still on about the number of portfolios that the NDA allies may seek from BJP. In his acceptance speech today, Modi told NDA MPs not to trust rumours and speculations about distribution of portfolios, which he said were baseless. Chief Ministers of all BJP-ruled states attended Friday’s NDA meeting. These included UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma, Gujarat CM Bhupendra Patel, Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Dhami, Haryana CM Nayab Singh Saini, Rajasthan CM Bhajanlal Sharma, MP CM Mohan Yadav and chief ministers from north-eastern states. About speculations, I remember, in 2014 Modi had told the NDA meeting at that time, not to trust baseless rumours about distribution of portfolios. He told the MPs not to trust any phone calls if somebody claimed that he or she was speaking from PMO. This was how he ended all speculations and powerbrokers were kept at bay. Since the situation this time is changed and BJP has not secured clear majority on its own, speculations are again rife. But people probably forget that the numbers and situation may have changed, but Modi has not changed. He is the same Narendra Modi who never compromises or bows to pressures. It is true that Modi’s government will depend on support from Chandrababu Naidu’s and Nitish Kumar’s party for majority and their views will have to be taken into consideration. As far as I know, Chandrababu Naidu has not kept any pre-conditions. He has only told Modi to run the government as he was running, and he would get his unconditional support. In return, Naidu reportedly told the PM, that he would seek the Centre’s cooperation for ensuring the welfare of the people of Andhra Pradesh. Neither any talks have taken place till now over the number of ministers and portfolios, nor any demands have been made by both Naidu and Nitish Kumar. Of course, some political issues remain. Opposition parties may try to drive a wedge among the NDA allies over issues like Uniform Civil Code, caste survey and Agniveer scheme. BJP leaders are confident there will not be much difficulties in ironing out these issues. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has already said that the Centre would try to remove shortcomings in the Agniveer scheme and would not hesitate for a relook. As far as caste survey is concerned, BJP never opposed this idea. Probably the Centre may agree for a caste census. On Uniform Civil Code, Home Minister Amit Shah has clearly said that UCC is on BJP’s agenda, but it will depend on state governments whether to implement it or not. On according special status to states like Bihar and Andhra Pradesh, there could be some difficulties. Both Nitish Kumar and Chandrababu Naidu have sought special status for their respective states. The Centre’s problem is that if both these states are given special status, other states would also make similar demands. NITI Aayog has already ended such a provision for according special status. Narendra Modi may opt for giving special assistance to states like Bihar and AP. Overall, Modi knows that he will be running a coalition government, and neither Nitish nor Chandrababu are new in politics. They know the Centre’s limitations. Hence, there is little possibility of any confrontation developing on such issues.

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