Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Swearing-in in Forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan, will be a mega affair

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Special report
Swearing-in in Forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan, will be a mega affair
Search for new Lok Sabha Speaker begins

Harish Gupta

New Delhi, May 27

Immediately after his return from the two-day tour of Gujrat & Varanasi, the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi got down to the highly cumbersome task of government formation.

While the preparation for the Swearing-in-ceremony in the forecourt of the at the Rashtrapati Bhawan will be held on May 30 as was held on May 26 in 2014. The difference will be the timing of the ceremony, 7 pm when the guests will not have to suffer due to extreme weather conditions. This time, the Rashtrapati Bhawan is likely to install coolers in large numbers for the comfort of the guests. The fact that the ceremony will be held in the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhawan indicates that it will be a mega affair unheard of in the Independent India. Global leaders from across the continent are likely to be part of the ceremony and since Darbar Hall cannot accommodate the guests from India and abroad, it will be held in the Forecourt.
Modi is reportedly busy giving final touches to the guests list so that proper arrangements may be made for their stay and protocol.
The massive mandate has brought added problems for him as experienced and veteran leaders are not around due to one reason or the other. His first task is to find the new Speaker of the Lok Sabha as Sumitra Mahajan is not around. Senior BJP leader Hukumdev Narayan Yadav didn't contest.
There are indications that 4 term MP from Karnataka Prahlad Joshi is being considered. He is in the panel of the presiding officers since 2014 and had wide experience in Karnataka too.
Another name under the consideration is of Santosh Gangwar who is a 7 term MP. He is rated high and Labour Minister in the outgoing government.
Of course, Narendra Singh Tomar, Parliamentary & Rural Development Minister continues to be in the list of those being considered.

Interestingly, the Shiv Sena may be offered the post of Deputy Speaker as AIADMK's M Thambidurai has lost the Lok Sabha polls. Anandrao Adsul has been on the panel of the presiding officers in the Lok Sabha and is considered a
good choice for the post.

Efforts are now on to persuade BJP president Amit Shah to join the government as Arun Jaitley is not fit enough to take up ministerial assignment. Amkit Shah may continue to hold the post of the party president until alternative arrangements are made. In 2014, even Rajnath Singh held the twin posts- Home Minister and party chief- for several month.
Modi has a tough task to find hidden talent among the 303 Lok Sabha MP s and 73 Rajya Sabha MP s.


Monday, May 27, 2019

Modi Begins Govt. Formation Exercise

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Modi Begins Govt. Formation Exercise

Amit Shah disinclined to join the Govt.

Search for LS Speaker begins, Rajnath, Tomar considered

Modi visits ailing Jaitley, disinclined to become FM

Harish Gupta

New Delhi, May 24

After the historic mandate, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi began the process of government formation today. He tendered resignation to the President today after the customary Cabinet meeting who asked him to continue until the new government takes oath of office. Earlier in the day, he called on the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who has been advised rest and wished him on his marriage anniversary too. The PM was desirous of his continuation and a last word is yet to be written as everything depends on his health condition.
Another issue is the choice of new Speaker of the Lok Sabha after Sumitra Mahajan was denied the ticket.
Highly placed sources say that two names are doing the rounds for the coveted post- Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Rural Development and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. Rajnath Singh will be considered only in the event of BJP president Amit Shah becoming the Union Home Minister. But Amit Shah is disinclined to join the government until he completes two terms of three years each. Secondly, he also wants to win Delhi Assembly in 2020 and West Bengal in 2021. He has also told his confidantes that the party's footprint has to be expanded in areas where it has negligible presence. Modi has a tough task to find some hidden talent among the 303 Lok Sabha MP s. Once a decision on the Speaker is taken, rest of the positions like External Affairs, Defence, Finance and Home will fall in place.

There are also indications that some world leaders may be invited for the Swearing-in-Ceremony including Russian President Vladimir Putin. World leaders have already congratulated him. Other global leaders may also come, if Modi opts to make it a mega event like 2014.

Railways and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal will be new FM if Jaitley finally refuses to hold the post. Giant killers; Smriti Irani and Ravi Shankar Prasad are set for a promotion too. Senior BJP leader Santosh Gangwar will be the pro tem speaker and he will sworn along with the new members of Lok Sabha.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Modi Tsunami Hits Opposition hard,

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Harish Gupta

Modi Tsunami Hits Opposition hard,

Garibi Hatoa-II brings second term

PM to take Oath early, Speculation on New Finance Minister

Harish Gupta

New Delhi, May 23

Modi Tsunami hit India again with NDA securing biggest ever victory in the 17thLok Sabha. If 2014 witnessed Modi wave, 2019 is a Tsunami as the BJP surpassed its own tally of 282 Lok Sabha seats. The results shocked the 22-parties Opposition who were working in different ways to de-thrown Modi and calling him names like “Chowkidar Chor Hai.” But the Modi-Amit Shah team worked hard through five years in the government and the party respectively. It was a feather in the cap of Prime Minister Modi who campaigned vigorously by addressing 142 rallies and launched frontal attack on the Gandhis, invoked strong nationalism (surgical strike inside Pakistan) and above all touched 24 crores people through his Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) schemes. In villages after villages Modi Toilets, Modi House, Modi Gas, Modi Roads, Modi-Kisan did wonders in 27 states where these schemes were launched. It was a replica of Indira Gandhi's Garibi Hatao slogan which had given her the biggest mandate of 351 seats in 1971.

If sources are to be believed, he would like to start his second innings rather early and take oath on an auspicious day. An insider told Lokmat that he would not take oath on “Panchak days” and May 25 and May 30 are considered auspicious days.
There is an intense speculation whether BJP president Amit Shah would join the government or continue to work for the party. Since Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has rescued himself from the second inning in view of frailing health, Modi will need a new Finance Minister. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is also unable to take a heavy work load due to health reasons. Modi will also have to find a new Leader of the Rajya Sabha in the absence of Jaitley. All this will be decided during the next two days and the consultation process with the core group of the party and the RSS has already begun. The younger leadership of the party has reasons to smile particularly Dharmendra Pradhan and Piyush Goyal.

The paragraph below can be added if the space permits

Of the ten pollsters, three proved on the dot who gave NDA around 350 seats. So intense was the Modi wave that it swept away Congress and its allies in Bihar, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Assam and entire North East. The Congress was wiped out in Delhi, Haryana, Himachal and Rajasthan. The same was witnessed in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh which Congress won only six months ago. Karnataka witnessed the same fate where its tall leaders like Mallikarjun Kharge and Veerappa Moily licked the dust. Tamil Nadu and Kerala were the only states where Congress could won its share of seats. Punjab is the lone winner for the Congress. But the credit for the same goes to the Chief Minister Capt Amrinder Singh. On the other hand, Modi succeeded in expanding BJP's footprint in West Bengal, Odisha and Telangana and retained BJP's strongholds. Belying reports, the BJP retained all 26 seats in Gujrat too.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Jaitley wants to relinquish ministerial charge

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

exclusive story 

Jaitley wants to relinquish ministerial charge
To focus on Health, Keeps away from public glare

Harish Gupta

New Delhi, May 22

Capital is agog with reports of frailing health of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who has withdrawn from public glare for the past three weeks. He has not been attending office or public functions and rejecting invitations to address seminars and social functions. He has also stopped holding briefings for the party spokespersons for the past some time as well. Except for attending a book function at the IIC and visiting party office once, he has been confined to his 2A Krishna Menon Marg residence. He stopped visiting party office completely and did not attend yesterday's dinner meet too. He is meeting fever number of officials to dispose of urgent files only and senior party functionaries when urgently required.

If sources are to be believed, he has conveyed to the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi that he would like to take complete rest to concentrate on improving his health. The public life has taken a heavy toll on his health and now he has decided to call it a day for at least six months. Jaitley's family members are also insisting upon him to not burden his body with work and devote time to recover first.

After considering all aspects, Arun Jaitley is understood to have conveyed his desire to the Prime Minister to quit the government immediately after the results are announced on May 23. He has also expressed his desire to relinquish the charge of the Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha as well. He will not hold any government post until he recovers completely.

The Prime Minister, however, refused to accept Jaitley's request and told him firmly that he will have to be in the government in whatever capacity he so desired. Jaitley has been Modi government's main trouble-shooter and most trusted person of PM Modi. The PM is understood to have also told him that he already has a talent deficit in the government and he should remain in the government. The health of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari is also a cause of concern. Sushma Swaraj did not even contest the Lok Sabha polls on health grounds.

Last word on the development is yet to be written.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Voting pattern compared with 2014 LS Polls

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Voting pattern compared with 2014 LS Polls

No Modi Wave in Sight in cities

86 Urban voting pattern analyzed

Except for Mumbai, all metro witnessed low polling

Harish Gupta & Nitin Agrawal 

New Delhi, May 18

The 86 Urban Lok Sabha seats which went to polls until May 12 have raised serious doubts about “Modi Undercurrent” claimed by the BJP.
Of these 86 seats, 55 were won by the BJP in 2014 where heavy polling was witnessed in all these constituencies. Barring a handful of constituencies, there was a Modi Tsunami in all these 86 seats where polling surpassed 20% in some cases.
Come 2019 and different scenario emerged. The Lokmat team compared the data of these 86 seats of three consecutive polling of 2009, 2014 and 2019 which sprang a surprises.
Instead of heavy polling in all these urban seats, 48 Lok Sabha seats witnessed very low to low polling while 38 witnessed more polling compared to 2014.
What should worry the BJP most is that 55 seats it held in 2014 out of these 86 Urban seats its vote bank slipped in as many as 28 seats. These cities included 6 out of seven seats in the Capital city of Delhi particularly the New Delhi seat where 8.26% less polling took place despite Modi and Shah addressing rallies. In Maharashtra, Pune and Nagpur, Vadodra, Ahemdabad West, Rajkot and Ahemdabad West in Modi's Gujrat, Bangalore North and Bangalore Central in Karnataka, Dhanbad in Jharkhand where Kirti Azad is contesting against a BJP stalwart, several cities of UP (Saharanpur, Barelli, Allahabad, Ghaziabad, Jhansi, Kanpur etc), all witnessed low polling.
These were the same cities which witnessed massive polling in 2014 compared to 2009. It is clear from the low polling that DeMo and poor implementation of the GST had huge negative effect in cities. While pollsters may interpret the low polling in more ways than one, but they all agree that it was not sign of any positive vote for anybody either for the candidate or for the leader.
When it came to positive voting, 27 out of these 55 seats witnessed marginal to moderate rise. Surprisingly, six Mumbai metro seats saw more polling over and above the 2014 heavy polling. This is perhaps the only metropolitan town where all three BJP seats bucked the trend from other four metro cities. The other four Mumabi metro seats held by Shiv Sena also witnessed heavy polling. It is a baffling as to why Mumbaikars differed with Delhiwalas or for that matter with Bangalorians or Chennai. The city seats in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh also bucked the trend and voter turn out was more.In Bhopal, 13% more votes were polled in 2014 over 2009. This time, polling was 8% more signalling problems for Dugvijay Singh (Congress) and victory for Sadhvi Pragya Thakur.

Total Urban Seats = 86
BJP won in 2014 = 55
Low polling in = 28
More Polling in =27

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Is Modi readying to take oath on May 25 ?

PM Modi to hold Man Ki Baat on May 26

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group
New Delhi, May 17

Narender Modi & Amit Shah
At the presser at BJP HQ.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi may not have taken any questions at the presser at party headquarters today. But he gave a clear indication of things to come after the results of grueling Lok Sabha polls are out on May 23.

While claiming that the BJP will form the government with majority of its own, the PM hinted that his government would lose no time and “start working as early as possible”. Obviously, he was telling the nation that he may have taken longer time in 2014 when he took 10 days to form the Cabinet after results were announced on May 16. But not this time. He would not like to take ten days to form the next government and start cracking the whip.

Perhaps, the PM is confident that he is winning hands down and has his plans ready for the next government and 100 days blue print is cut out.

If sources are to be believed the PM will resume his monthly 'Mann ki Baat' broadcast on May 26 at 11 am. While insiders say he may take the oath of office on May 25 itself without much fanfare if he will be short of majority slightly and hold Man Ki Baat. It may be mentioned that he had suspended this monthly radio program in March promising to return after the Lok Sabha polls. He had held 53 episodes of radio broadcast ever since Modi came to power in 2014.

However, the fate and content of Modi's 'Mann ki Baat' broadcast will depend on the outcome of the Lok Sabha elections as the program will continue subject to various permutations and combinations.

Now that Modi is fully conversant of . gang operations and successfully fought them for the past five years, he would not waste time in government formation.

Irrespective of the clear majority his party gets or not, the President will invite him to form the government as the leader of the single largest party after the 17th Lok Sabha is notified on May 24.

In any case, BJP president Amit Shah extended an invitation of non-BJP non-NDA parties to join the NDA if they believed in its agenda. “Our doors are open to all of them,”

Meanwhile, the BJP has conveyed to all its MPs contesting elections that they should return to the Capital on May 24 immediately after taking the Certificate from the Returning Officer of their respective constituencies declaring them elected   

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

BJP's Core Committee may be over-hauled

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

BJP's Core Committee may be over-hauled 
J P Nadda in reckoning for the apex decision making body 

Harish Gupta

New Delhi, May 28 

Intense speculation is rife in the Capital over the composition of BJP's Core Committee now that two if its vital members are not part of it. Mr M Venkaiah Naidu became the Vice President of India in 2017  and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has opted out temporarily due to frailing health. 

The Core Committee comprised of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP Chief Amit Shah and Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari besides these two. The vacancy caused by Naidu's exit was not filled. The criterion for forming the Core Committee was that all former party president below the age of 75 will be its members. Arun Jaitley was inducted as he was Leader of the Rajya Sabha. The Cor committee concept was evolved in the BJP during the days of Atal era which continued in the Modi era too.
This Core Committee meets at short notice to take  key decisions relating to party and the government whenever needed. These decisions are later ratified by the party's parliamentary board if they needed the approval.  The BJP's parliamentary board is a larger body with Sushma Swaraj, Thaawar Chand Gehlot, Shivraj Singh Chouhan,  J P Nadda and Ram Lal as members. The talent deficit is the main worry of the BJP as more than 100 new MPs have been elected to the Lok Sabha out of the 303 and Rajya Sabha will also see 60 new faces in April 2020. 
There are indications that Union Health Minister J P Nadda who is general secretary incharge of the Parliamentary Board may be inducted into the Core Committee in the event of his becoming the Leader of the Rajya Sabha or party president. Nadda has been a trusted lieutenant of the leadership and was incharge of UP during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The steller performance of the party in UP has added feather in his cap. 
Ravi Shankar Prasad is also in the reckoning. If External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj stays in the government she will continue to be the member of the parliamentary board, the only woman member of the apex body. Otherwise, a new woman leader may be brought in, sources say. As per the seniority, Textiles Minister Smriti Irani is a third time MP and a giant killer and contender for induction into the apex body though Nirmala Sitharaman is senior in order of precedence as she is the Defence Minister of India though first time MP.