Narendra Modi and BJP officials in talks over filling ministries

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 May, 2014, 4:10pm
UPDATED : Monday, 19 May, 2014, 1:13am

Prime minister-to-be Narendra Modi was in discussions with close aides yesterday, finalising his cabinet and grappling with the crucial decision of who to name as finance minister.

Two days after a thumping victory in the general election, there was little clarity about who Modi would include in his team, even in other key portfolios such as defence, interior and external affairs.

The alliance led by Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 336 of the 543 seats in India's lower house of parliament, making it the first time in 25 years that the country will not be led by a coalition government.

One of his most important decisions will be whether to name front runner Arun Jaitley as finance minister.

Jaitley was eminently suited, sources in the BJP said, but he was defeated in his race for a parliamentary seat.

Yet Jaitley, 61, is a former commerce minister, is regarded as a capable administrator, and is one of the few people in the party who has experience but is not too old.

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Modi was unlikely to reveal who would take senior cabinet posts until a meeting of the BJP parliamentary leadership tomorrow, one senior party leader said. Modi was considering merging some ministries to streamline government, other sources said.

The meeting is expected to confirm Modi as the party's parliamentary leader, after which he will meet President Pranab Mukherjee to start the process of forming the government, and is likely to be sworn in this week.