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Modi To Be Sworn-in On Monday, Likely To Have Small Cabinet

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Amidst hectic discussions on formation of the new government, indications emerged on Sunday (25 May) that Narendra Modi would have a "small and compact" Cabinet that will take oath along with him on May 26 in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan.
 
Some senior BJP leaders including Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Shourie, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Ananth Kumar are expected to find a place in the Cabinet, sources told news agency PTI.

Leaders of NDA allies, like TDP, Akali Dal and LJP, are also likely to be included in the Council of Ministers.
 
Modi, without revealing who will get what, has told his confidantes that he would like to see a "small and compact" Cabinet, the sources said.
 
An expansion of the Cabinet, if necessary, will be undertaken after a few months, they added.
 
Narendra Modi, who led BJP to an astounding victory in the Lok Sabha polls, will be sworn in as the Prime Minister on Monday (26 May) in the forecourt of the majestic Rashtrapati Bhawan at a grand function to be attended by foreign dignitaries including SAARC leaders.
 
The swearing-in ceremony of the 15th Prime Minister of India would be attended by nearly 3,000 guests, including top leaders from SAARC countries like Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
 
President Pranab Mukherjee will administer the oath of office and secrecy to the 63-year-old Modi and his Council of Ministers in the presence of a host of leaders, including outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and party Vice President Rahul Gandhi, besides leaders of various other parties and Chief Ministers of a number of states.
 
Modi's mother Hiraba is also expected to attend the ceremony.
 
Besides Sharif and Rajapaksa, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom will be among the foreign dignitaries attending the ceremony.
 
Bangladesh will be represented by Speaker Shirin Chaudhury as Premier Sheikh Hasina would be travelling to Japan at the time of the swearing-in ceremony.
 
This is the first time that the heads of states of SAARC nations have been invited to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the Indian Prime Minister.
 
Following in the footsteps of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Modi had expressed his desire to be sworn in at the forecourt so that a large number of visitors can be accommodated for the ceremony.
 
Restructuring The Government
Modi is expected to restructure the government, which will include merger of some ministries, to "remove anomalies" for the effective delivery of governance. These include some key Finance and Commerce departments besides some others including those relating to education.
 
To give final touches to the Cabinet and portfolios, Modi on Saturday held a series of meetings with party leaders, including M Venkaiah Naidu, Amit Shah, Ananth Kumar, Uma Bharti and J P Nadda, whose name is doing the rounds for taking over as party chief in case Rajnath Singh joins the Cabinet.
 
Chief of NDA ally Republican Party of India (RPI) Ramdas Athawale also met Modi amid his hope of getting a Cabinet berth.
 
There was a steady stream of visitors at Rajnath Singh's Ashoka Road residence also. 
 
Prominent among those who met the BJP chief were party were LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan and his son Chirag, who has also been elected an MP. Paswan is hoping for a Cabinet rank Ministry as well as a Minister of State berth for his party.
 
Leader of another NDA ally Apna Dal Anupriya Patel also met Rajnath Singh and later termed it a "courtesy" meeting.
 
Asked whether she expected a berth in the Union Cabinet, she said, "you should ask the BJP. They will take a call on this."
 
Sources, however, said the Apna Dal which won two seats in Uttar Pradesh are also seeking to find a place in the new Cabinet.
 
Rajnath also met senior party leaders as also the RSS pointsman for BJP Suresh Soni and some allies.
 
Others who met the party chief include MPs Maneka Gandhi and Udit Raj and senior Delhi unit leader and Rajya Sabha member Vijay Goel. Former Union minister in the NDA government I D Swamy also met Singh.
 
BJP general secretary Ram Lal also met the party chief, besides J P Nadda.
 
Preparations for formation of government have gained momentum with top BJP leaders engaged in a series of confabulations ahead of Modi's swearing in on Monday.
 
A Remarkable Journey
Known for his decisiveness and governance skills, Modi will be heading the first government in 30 years where a single party has the absolute majority.
 
It has been a remarkable journey to the top during which he has been pilloried by his critics and adored by his supporters who believe he will pull India out of the rut in which it is stuck.
 
"I believe God has chosen me," Modi had said in the course of his relentless and focused election campaign that got BJP its highest-ever tally of 282 seats, 10 more than the required majority number in the 543-member Lok Sabha, and catapulted the Gujarat Chief Minister to the pinnacle of power.
 
The BJP leader himself saw a combination of a very strong anti-Congress wave "together with an equally strong wave for BJP and its NDA partners" during the marathon campaign and seized upon these to decimate the UPA.
 
A ground-to-air security cover on par with the Republic Day parade is being put in place for the swearing-in.
 
Delhi Police said a multi-layered security ring is being thrown around Raisina Hills and all offices around it will be closed five hours before the event takes place.
 
"The offices around Rashtrapati Bhavan will be shut at 1 PM following which they will be sanitised by security agencies. The security will be on par with R-Day parade," said a senior police official. .
 
Sources said that IAF will put in place an air defence system to secure the skies and snipers will be deployed on all high-rise buildings around the high-security area.
 
Police said all roads around Raisina Hills that lead to Rashtrapati Bhawan will be barricaded as part of the security measures.
 
Mobile hit teams, anti-aircraft guns and sharpshooters of NSG will also be deployed besides paramilitary personnel and Delhi Police commandos to secure the area.
 
Arrangements are being made at Rashtrapati Bhawan for all the visiting VVIPs who will also be accompanied by their diplomatic teams, official sources said.
 
Rashtrapati Bhawan is giving the final shape to the preparations, which have been underway for the past few days.
 
The sprawling forecourt lawns of Rashtrapati Bhawan are ready for the gala swearing-in ceremony. The lawns have been filled with chairs and arrangements are being made for visitors to brave the summer heat in the national capital. 

(Agencies)