New Delhi: With exit polls predicting a Narendra Modi government at the Centre, the race for the Cabinet and other posts has begun in earnest. There are indications that Arun Jaitley may be the finance or external affairs minister. Most feel that Mr Jaitley will be able to handle either of these ministries with elan.
However, there is also a speculation that if he comes to power, Mr Modi might bring in a top technocrat at the helm of the finance ministry. Several names are doing the rounds in this context. Some feel that the Modi government may rely on the advice of Prof. Jagdish Bhagwati, who had attracted attention over his endorsement of the “Gujarat model,” as well as that of Arvind Panagariya, a former chief economist at the Asian Development Bank.
For home and defence, there is reportedly a race between Sushma Swaraj and Rajnath Singh. While Mr Singh is on record saying that he would prefer to head the party, some feel he may “not be too averse” to joining the Cabinet. If Ms Swaraj gets MHA, Mr Singh might get MoD, or vice versa.
If Rajnath Singh joins the Cabinet, Nitin Gadkari could return as BJP chief. But, if Mr Singh remains party chief, Mr Gadkari may get surface transport ministry.
Mr Modi’s trusted aide Amit Shah is unlikely to find a place in the Cabinet or in the PMO till he is cleared of all the cases that he faces. But he is expected to remain in New Delhi as Mr Modi’s “eyes and ears.”
It is learnt that the RSS, is not too keen to divest him of his current assignment, as he has accomplished the task of reviving the party in UP. “His next target could be to install a BJP government in UP, where elections are due in 2017,” a source said.
All eyes are on the post of national security adviser. Under Mr Modi, the NSA’s role is expected to acquire a lot of muscle.
Some names doing the rounds in this context are those of former foreign secretaries Kanwal Sibal and Shyam Saran, Indian envoy to the US S. Jaishankar, former UN representative Hardeep Puri and ex-RAW chief Sanjeev Tripathi. Former IB chief Ajit Doval may also emerge as a dark horse.
The name of Yashwant Sinha is circulating as a possible deputy chairman of the Planning Commission....