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BJP Short Of Majority, Chandrababu Naidu, Nitish Kumar Dictate Terms

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With the BJP falling short of majority in Lok Sabha, its allies in NDA have started bargaining hard for plum ministries at the Centre. The allies, including Coalition-era veterans N Chandrababu Naidu and Nitish Kumar, are learnt to have put forward their demands in the NDA meeting held yesterday. No official word on what they have demanded is out yet, but hectic negotiations are on, it is learnt.

There is speculation that Mr Naidu’s TDP, which has won 16 Lok Sabha seats and also swept the Andhra Pradesh Assembly polls, have demanded five ministerial berths, including a Minister of State post for Finance, and the Lok Sabha Speaker’s post. TDP may also be looking at portfolios such as Roads, Panchayati Raj, Health and Education.

The JDU, which now has 12 MPs in Lok Sabha, expects two Cabinet berths and one MoS role, party sources have said. The Railways Minister post will be a key choice, they added. 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. A Common Minimum Programme is a resolution, outlining the shared agenda of parties in a coalition. 

During the Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime, the late George Fernandes was the convener of this committee. According to JDU sources, Nitish Kumar is the apt candidate for this position now.

The JDS, which has won two seats, is likely to push for a central ministerial role for its leader and MP HD Kumaraswamy. HD Devegowda’s party has projected itself as a farmers’ party and is looking at the Agriculture Ministry, it is learnt.

The other NDA ally the BJP may need to accommodate is the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena, which has won seven seats in Maharashtra, and Chirag Paswan’s LJP, which has won five seats. It is not confirmed yet if actor-politician Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena, which has won two seats, will seek any central role. In the last two Narendra Modi governments, Anupriya Patel, the leader of Apna Dal (Sonelal), got ministerial berths. This time, her party’s tally is down from two in 2019 to one. The next few days will reveal if she retains her ministerial seat.

The BJP has won 240 seats — 32 short of the majority mark of 272 in Lok Sabha. TDP and JDU together hold 28 seats and along with BJP’s other allies, NDA will be past the magic figure.

The INDIA Opposition bloc, on the other hand, has clinched 232 seats. Top leaders of the bloc met in Delhi yesterday to discuss the way forward.

Addressing the media after the meeting, Mr Kharge said, “The constituents of the INDIA bloc thank the people of India for the overwhelming support received by our alliance. The people’s mandate has given a befitting reply to the BJP and their politics of hate and corruption. This is a mandate in defence of the Constitution of India and against price rise, unemployment and crony capitalism and also to save democracy. The INDIA bloc will continue to fight against the fascist rule of the BJP led by Modi.”

“We will take appropriate steps at the appropriate time to realise the people’s desire not to be ruled by BJP’s government. This is our decision and we altogether agreed on these points and we will keep up with the promises we have made to the people,” he added.

 With the BJP falling short of majority in Lok Sabha, its allies in NDA have started bargaining hard for plum ministries at the Centre.    

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