NDA MPs to meet on Friday to elect Modi as their leader

New Delhi, Jun 6 (PTI) Newly elected MPs of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance are expected to meet on Friday to elect Narendra Modi as their leader, paving the way for him to take oath as prime minister for a third term.

After Modi’s election as the leader of NDA MPs, senior members of the alliance like TDP’s N Chandrababu Naidu and JD(U)’s Nitish Kumar will join the prime minister for a meeting with President Droupadi Murmu to present her the list of parliamentarians supporting him, some alliance members said.

He may be sworn in over the weekend, possibly Sunday, they added. The NDA has 293 MPs, comfortably above the majority mark of 272 in the 543-member Lok Sabha.

Senior BJP leaders, including Union ministers Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh, held deliberations through the day on Thursday as the party set in motion government formation efforts amid a demand by a senior Janata Dal (United) leader that his party should receive respectable representation in the Union Council of Ministers.

“The matter of cabinet berths will be decided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and our party chief Nitish Kumar ji. But, it should be respectable,” Shrawan Kumar, JD(U) leader and Bihar Rural Development Minister, told PTI in Patna.

There should be three ministerial berths for his party, another JD(U) leader demanded.

Another BJP ally and LJP(R) leader Chirag Paswan, who is seen as a contender for a Cabinet berth, said his party’s support to Modi is unconditional, stressing that it was under his leadership that the NDA has won a majority.

All NDA constituents are likely to present letters of their support to the President for Modi as the new prime minister on Friday, he added.

Asked about the JD(U)’s demand for a review of the ‘Agnipath’ scheme, Paswan quoted Modi as saying in the NDA meeting on Wednesday that he was open to suggestions from allies on different issues. “He, in fact, encouraged us to speak,” the young parliamentarian said, without commenting directly on the issue.

“There is anger among voters on the (short-term army recruitment) Agnipath scheme. Our party wants those shortcomings to be removed,” JD(U) spokesperson K C Tyagi told reporters earlier.

Senior BJP leaders met at the party’s national president J P Nadda’s residence in what was seen as part of the party’s exercise to reach out to allies over issues like their share of ministerial berths and pick the probables from within their party for the coalition government.

Preparing to take oath for a third straight term as the head of a coalition government, Modi on Wednesday chaired a meeting of the ruling alliance’s members who unanimously elected him as its leader.

Leaders of the BJP’s ally Janata Dal (United) also held deliberations with party president and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

The regional party is looking to get some key ministerial berths to reclaim the lost ground in Bihar where it has performed well after being seen to have fallen way behind the BJP and the RJD over the last few years in political strength.

With 12 MPs, the JD(U) is the second biggest BJP ally after the Telugu Desam Party which has 16 parliamentarians. The new BJP-led government will depend critically on these two parties for survival.

BJP leaders are in touch with allies over ministerial berths and other issues.

Naidu is keen for the Centre to provide Andhra Pradesh financial assistance in building its capital in Amravati. He also wants the new government to take steps to fulfil the Centre’s commitment to the state when Telangana was carved out of it, sources said.

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