A stream of leaders from the BJP and its allies in the National Democratic Alliance or NDA walked into Gujarat Bhawan before 10 am today to have tea with Narendra Modi, who will take oath as Prime Minister this evening. (10 Latest Developments)
It was yet another Modi chai pe charcha. The leaders who visited are expected to take oath along with him as his council of ministers today. One of them described it as an “introduction” before portfolios are handed out this evening. (Track LIVE Updates)
Among those at Gujarat Bhawan were BJP chief Rajnath Singh and senior leaders Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Nitin Gadkari, all tipped to get top ministries. Mr Jaitley could be the country’s next Finance Minister, Rajnath Singh could get Home and Sushma Swaraj is the front runner for the External Affairs Ministry, sources said.
Soon after the tea party, Ms Swaraj’s Twitter handle changed from @SushmaswarajBJP to @Sushmaswaraj; it was read as a signal of the non-partisanism of a minister.
Also at tea with Mr Modi were BJP leaders like Ravi Shankar Prasad, Venkaiah Naidu, Anant Kumar, Uma Bharti and Dr Harsh Vardhan, all reportedly in line for key ministries.
This morning a list of 33 ministers – 23 of cabinet rank and 10 ministers of state, sources said – was sent to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, which began calling up leaders. Among those who received early calls were BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitaraman and General VK Singh, the former Army chief who is now the BJP’s Ghaziabad MP, fueling speculation that he could be minister of state, defence.
Others at Gujarat Bhawan were former Karnataka chief minister Sadanand Gowda, veteran Maharashtra leader Gopinath Munde, Dharmendra Pradhan, Santosh Gangwar, Najma Heptullah, Piyush Goyal and Madhya Pradesh leader Thawar Chand Gehlot.
Rao Inderjit Singh, the Gurgaon MP who joined the BJP recently after expressing disillusionment with the Congress, had tea with Mr Modi too. As did Assam BJP chief Sarbananda Sonowal.
Among those from the BJP’s partners in the NDA spotted at Gujarat Bhawan were Bihar leader Ram Vilas Paswan and his son Chirag Paswan, who is widely credited with sewing up the alliance with the BJP. Another Bihar ally Upendra Kushwaha of the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party was also there and is expected to be a minister. The BJP and its allies swept Bihar in the general election, winning 31 of 40 seats.
Anant Geete, a veteran of the Shiv Sena, the BJP’s biggest and oldest partner too was seen at the Gujarat Bhawan, where Mr Modi has been camped for over a week now as he finalised his list of ministers.