Bargaining Begins in NDA Over Plum Ministries

NEW DELHI:  After the BJP lost majority in the Lok Sabha, its allies in the NDA with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) falling short of the majority mark to form a new government alone, speculations are rife that the TDP and JD(U) are bargaining hard to seek plum ministerial berths in Modi’s cabinet.
Allies including alliance stalwarts N Chandrababu Naidu and Nitish Kumar have put forth their demands in the NDA meeting held yesterday. Sources familiar with the matter told that initially, the JD(U) was promised at least three Cabinet berths and one minister of state (MoS), but he is now in a better bargaining position. “We are hoping to get at least four Cabinet berths. One more MoS post could be asked for,” said a JD(U) leader. He further revealed that the party is keen on portfolios such as Railways, Rural development, and Water resources as “these portfolios will give JD(U) leverage in accelerating development in the state.”
There has been no official statement yet about what they have demanded, but it is believed that intense negotiations are going on and Narendra Modi is under heavy pressure. The allies are considering among themselves whether Amit Shah should be accepted as Home Minister again. Amit Shah is not universally accepted as Home Minister even in the BJP. Many MPs have different opinions. Many media reports have speculated about what the allies of the BJP in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) would have demanded, as Narendra Modi is going to form a coalition government with them.
Financial Express has said in its report that N. The Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has demanded special category status for Andhra Pradesh, a place in the cabinet including for his son Nara Lokesh in the new government and funds for the Amaravati capital project. The special category is a contentious issue over which Naidu quit the NDA in 2018 and it could pave the way for a number of grants, incentives and concessions for the state. An Indian Express report details how the mechanism was created to ensure that resource-poor states are helped to develop. However, Andhra Pradesh is out of the list of previous special status states.
When the undivided state was bifurcated to form Telangana in 2014, the UPA government had promised Andhra Pradesh special status. Since Narendra Modi came to power, the state governments led by Naidu and YS Jaganmohan Reddy have made several delegations with the same demand.
Another report says the TDP wants the post of Lok Sabha Speaker and five posts in the cabinet. Meanwhile, the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) has reportedly demanded several Cabinet portfolios, including Railways. The New Indian Express speculates that the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena will demand one post in the Union Cabinet and two junior ministerial posts. The Lok Janshakti Party may also demand the same. The Hindustani Awam Morcha may demand a ministry or Cabinet rank for its founder Jitan Ram Manjhi.
“The ministerial demands of the allies will be considered except for six ministries,” a source told Those ministries are Railways, Home, Finance, Defence, Law and IT. There is also speculation that Mr Naidu’s TDP, which won 16 Lok Sabha seats and also swept the Andhra Pradesh Assembly elections, has demanded five ministerial posts, including Minister of State for Finance and the post of Lok Sabha Speaker. The TDP may also consider portfolios such as roads, panchayati raj, health and education.
The JDU, which now has 12 MPs in the Lok Sabha, is expected to get two Cabinet posts and one Minister of State role, party sources said. He said the post of railway minister would be an important option. The Nitish Kumar-led party may also press for a common minimum programme for the new NDA government and a coordination committee to ensure its implementation. The Common Minimum Programme is a resolution outlining the common agenda of the parties in the alliance.
(Bureau Report with Media Inputs).

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