Eight hours of PM-Shah meetings to choose ministers; no names out yet

With the swearing-in of the new Modi cabinet all set to take place in less than 36 hours, speculation is rife over who all would be part of it. To decide on the probable names for the new cabinet, Prime Minister Modi and party chief Amit Shah had a marathon meeting for nearly five hours on Tuesday. This evening too they both had a three-hour meeting.

Around 65 ministers are expected to be sworn in on May 30 including new faces from states such as Telangana, Odisha, West Bengal and north east. While a few prominent ones from the erstwhile cabinet would be retained, those who didn’t make a mark in the elections may be dropped.

Among the challenges the Modi-Shah duo faces relate to striking a balance between different regions, caste, community and religion. Also, states that are scheduled to go to polls in the next few months need to be given representation in order to strike a rapport with the electorate of those states. Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand figure in that list.

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This time, parties like the AIADMK and the JD(U) are likely to find a place in the cabinet.

In all likelihood, the new cabinet will reflect the “New India.” This was made clear when Modi addressed the outgoing cabinet. Given the scale of the mandate that Modi has received even seniors aren’t in a position to protest should they get dropped.

Revival of the economy figures at the top of Modi’s priority list. So it will be interesting to know who would replace Arun Jaitley as he himself has opted out of the next cabinet on account of his ill-health.

Also, with Amit Shah’s induction into the cabinet imminent, a few names are doing the rounds for the post of the party chief. Dharmendra Pradhan appears to be among the front-runners.

With the PMO maintaining a stoic silence over the size and composition of the new cabinet, the country is keeping its fingers crossed even as it hazards a guess over who all would be in and who all would be out.

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