Negotiations for Cabinet Berths Intensify Ahead of NDA Meeting

With the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) poised to form the government for a third consecutive term, negotiations for key Cabinet positions intensified on Thursday. Allies of the BJP are lobbying for crucial ministerial berths ahead of a pivotal NDA meeting in the capital on Friday, which is expected to lay the groundwork for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s third term.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Janata Dal (United) (JD(U)), the second and third largest constituents of the NDA, held internal meetings to finalize their demands. In Vijayawada, TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu met with his 16 parliamentarians to strategize. A senior TDP leader revealed that the party seeks five ministerial positions for itself and two for its ally Jana Sena. The TDP is also advocating for special status for Andhra Pradesh, which has been economically disadvantaged since the 2014 bifurcation that saw Hyderabad become part of Telangana.

“We have a greater role to play in Delhi now. We must focus on that and make sure our voice is heard,” Naidu told his MPs, according to an insider.

Meanwhile, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will convene with his party’s 12 parliamentarians in Delhi on Friday morning. The JD(U) is expected to demand four ministerial positions and special status for Bihar. The party is focusing on securing two Cabinet and two Minister of State berths to cater to a diverse mix of castes and communities ahead of the 2025 state assembly elections.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi and our party chief Nitish Kumar ji will decide the matter of Cabinet berths. But it should be respectable,” said Shrawan Kumar, Bihar’s Rural Development Minister, indicating the strategic importance of these negotiations.

The BJP, which won 240 seats in the general elections—short of the majority mark of 272—will rely on its allies to form the government. The NDA, with 293 seats, comfortably surpasses the required majority. The strong performance of the Opposition’s Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) in states like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and West Bengal prevented the BJP from reaching its pre-poll target of 370 seats.

On Wednesday, the NDA unanimously backed Modi as its leader, setting the stage for forming the government despite the BJP’s reduced numbers. With support from TDP’s 16 members, two from Jana Sena, 12 from JD(U), seven from Shiv Sena, and five from Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas), along with several smaller allies, the NDA is set to proceed.

Negotiations have been described as intense, with Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde demanding one Cabinet berth and one Minister of State position for his seven members. Shinde also seeks to secure 100 out of the 288 seats in the upcoming Maharashtra assembly elections. He met with his party MPs on Thursday, emphasizing the strategic importance of these demands.

Chirag Paswan of Lok Janshakti Party is also expected to join Nitish Kumar in advocating for a special financial package for Bihar, alongside demanding a Cabinet position. Similarly, the Rashtriya Lok Dal, which won both seats it contested, seeks a ministry that aligns with its rural agrarian base.

The NDA meeting on Friday in the Central Hall of the old Parliament building will be crucial in finalizing these negotiations. TDP aims to secure the Lok Sabha Speaker’s position and ministries such as Urban Development, Information Technology, and Road Transport and Highways, given its developmental agenda for Amravati.

JD(U) is focused on portfolios like Railways and Rural Development to bolster its standing in Bihar ahead of the 2025 state polls. Both Nitish Kumar and Chandrababu Naidu will participate in the NDA meeting and later join Modi in presenting President Droupadi Murmu with the list of supporting parliamentarians. BJP chief ministers, MPs, and national office bearers will also convene on Friday morning before the NDA meeting.

The intricate bargaining reflects the coalition’s efforts to balance regional demands with national governance, ensuring a stable and effective third term for the NDA under Modi’s leadership.

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