NEW DELHI: The lack of experienced players in NDA ranks seems to have opened up the prospect of BJP veterans landing important portfolios in the incoming Modi government. Sources said while there was uncertainty about the chances of former party president Murli Manohar and leader of opposition in the outgoing LS Sushma Swaraj getting ministries which are part of the Cabinet Committee on Security, the situation has perked up somewhat because of what is being referred to as BJP’s “poor bench strength”.

Sources said while Swaraj could be considered for the ministry of external affairs, Joshi may be entrusted with the crucial defence portfolio. BJP chief Rajnath Singh and leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley continue to be seen as the frontrunners for the two other CCS ministries — home and finance, in that order. Party circles also expect former telecom and disinvestment minister Arun Shourie to get an important portfolio.

Rajnath Singh

There are indications that in keeping with his thrust on “lean” government, Modi may begin with a mid-sized team. Party sources said a smaller team will be adequate, given the PM’s plan to reduce the size of the government by clubbing ministries with overlapping responsibilities and by even doing away with those which seen as edundancies. Even as odds seemed to have improved for Swaraj and Joshi to get important portfolios, uncertainty continued to hang over whether L K Advani, another veteran who opposed Modi’s anointment as PM candidate, will get to be Speaker.

Sushma Swaraj

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BJP sources said Advani had expressed interest in the constitutional post which is supposed to be autonomous of the political executive and, therefore, not a subordinate to the PM. However, the leadership is yet to make up its mind, with the experience of the resistance to Modi from Advani partisans only rendering the call that much more difficult.

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