Amit Shah, the BJP’s master strategist who scripted the party’s expansion over the last few years, is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new team that has taken oath this evening.
Shah, 54, took oath right after PM Modi and his most senior minister Rajnath Singh as dusk fell over the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan in Delhi. The ceremony continued for the next two hours as 57 ministers in PM Modi’s team took the oath of office and secrecy.
Shah, who was Gujarat’s junior home minister when Narendra Modi was the state’s chief minister, will be assigned a key portfolio and will be a part of the crucial Cabinet Committee on Security in the new government, which has in it the government’s four top cabinet ministers.
Sources told Hindustan Times that Amit Shah is likely to be given the finance ministry after Arun Jaitley ruled himself out of the new team. Jaitley, who was the finance minister in the outgoing cabinet, had yesterday announced his decision to stay out due to health reasons.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who is expected to continue as the number 2 in the government, is likely to retain his portfolio. Sushma Swaraj was a surprise exclusion from the cabinet.
Jagat Prakash Nadda, health minister in the outgoing government and who camped for months in Uttar Pradesh to execute the BJP’s poll strategy, could slip into Amit Shah’s shoes in the party.
Amit Shah is seen to have PM Modi’s complete trust and has been in discussions with him on the shape and size of the new council of ministers over the last few days. On Thursday morning after the BJP’s two most-senior sealed the list of ministers, it was Amit Shah who made the phone calls to party lawmakers to tell them about the decision on their induction.
Amit Shah has completed a full term of three years as the BJP chief, and the party’s constitution allows him another term of an equal number of years. The political party is now the world’s largest — it rules 14 out of 29 states, either on its own or with allies.
Shah’s term as BJP president ended in January, and he was given an extension till after the parliamentary election is over. The process to elect the next party chief will take about three to four months.