‘No demand’ for cabinet ministry, says Chirag Paswan

New Delhi: In the midst of requests for plum posts by the Telugu Desam Party and Janata Dal (United), Lok Janshakti Party-Ram Vilas (LJP) national president Chirag Paswan has maintained that he did not seek a cabinet position from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which leads the government coalition NDA.

“I have no demands. There can be no demand because our purpose was to re-elect Modi as Prime Minister,” Paswan remarked.

He emphasised, “Only my Prime Minister has the right to decide on the council of ministers.”

With the BJP securing 240 seats, falling 32 short of the majority mark (272), smaller parties like TDP (16 seats), JDU (12 seats), Eknath Shinde’s faction of Shiv Sena (7 seats), and LJP (5 seats) have emerged as kingmakers.

Reports suggest that TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu and JDU leader Nitish Kumar, both experienced in coalition governments, are vying for significant roles. The TDP is reportedly eyeing the Speakership, a demand the BJP is hesitant to meet. Instead, the BJP is considering offering TDP the position of Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker.

The BJP is unwilling to relinquish key cabinet portfolios such as Defence, External Affairs, Home, and Finance, as well as Roads, Transport and Highways, and Railways. Nitish Kumar, known for his strategic political manoeuvres, may push for a Common Minimum Programme for the NDA administration and is likely to seek control of the Railway Ministry, a portfolio he previously held.

For the first time, Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi will need the support of allies to form the government. During the previous two terms, allies were given less significant portfolios such as Food Processing and Heavy Industries. Reports indicate that the BJP may offer Civil Aviation and Steel to the TDP, while Panchayati Raj and Rural Development might go to the JDU. Additionally, the BJP may appoint allies as Ministers of State in crucial portfolios like Defence and Finance.

Modi, re-elected as the leader of the NDA alliance, is set to take office as Prime Minister on June 9. Meanwhile, the INDIA grouping, having secured 232 seats, has opted for a “wait and watch” approach after exceeding expectations.

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