Powerful BJP president Amit Shah and seasoned leaders like Nitin Gadkari, Nirmala Sitharaman, Piyush Goyal, Prakash Javadekar and Ravi Shankar Prasad are set to be sworn in as Cabinet ministers along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a glittering ceremony on Thursday evening.
The news of Shah joining the Cabinet came from Gujarat BJP chief Jitu Vaghani, who tweeted a congratulatory message. "Had a courtesy meeting with our mentor Amit Shah and gave my best wishes to him on his inclusion as a strong member of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's council of ministers," he tweeted.
Shah was part of a meeting Modi held at his residence at 4.30 pm with the leaders selected for ministerial berths. There have been indications that senior leaders Sushma Swaraj and Rajnath Singh may also join Modi's new cabinet.
Another new face which is set to find a place in the Union Council of Ministers is former Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar. Modi will be sworn in as prime minister for a second consecutive term at a glittering ceremony at 7 PM at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Sources said Dharmendra Pradhan, Smriti Irani, Sadananda Gowda, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Giriraj Singh, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Thawarchand Gehlot, Dilip Ghosh, Jitendra Singh, Mansukh Mandaviya and Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank are also likely to be part of the Union council of ministers.
The other leaders which are likely to get ministerial berths include Arjun Ram Meghawal, Krishanpal Gujjar, Niranjan Jyoti, Ramdas Athwale, Kiren Rijiju, Anurag Thakur, Arjun Munda, M N Pandey, Rao Inderjit, Ashwini Choubey, Sanjeev Balyan, Purushottam Rupala and Rita Bahuguna Joshi. Earlier in the morning, the prime minister held a final round of consultations with Shah to give shape to his council of ministers before sending the list to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
As the party geared up for the celebrations, Shah's Akbar Road residence was decked up. Modi and Shah have held several rounds of discussions in the last two days ahead of government formation. Among some of the new faces that are likely to be inducted include Prahlad Patel from Madhya Pradesh, Kailash Chowdhry from Rajasthan, Krishna Reddy from Telangana and Suresh Angedi from Karnataka and Raosaheb Danve from Maharashtra.
Three newly elected MPs from Karnataka will be taking oath as members of Union Council of ministers. Besides Gowda, Pralhad Joshi, a four-time MP from Dharwad and Suresh Angadi, four-time MP from Belgaum, are also expected to take oath. Among allies, Ram Vilas Paswan of the LJP, Arvind Sawant of Shiv Sena, Harsimrat Kaur Badal of Akali Dal and Ramdas Athawale of RPI(A) are likely to take oath, official sources said.
The sources said the Modi government is likely to showcase the party's newfound strength in different regions. BJP allies like Shiv Sena, JD(U), AIADMK, LJP, Akali Dal and Apna Dal are set to be represented in the government. The Shiv Sena has confirmed its leader Arvind Sawant, who defeated Congress heavyweight Milind Deora from Mumbai, will be its nominee in the council of ministers.
The Apna Dal's Anupriya Patel is likely to be in the council of ministers. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's decision to opt out on health grounds has fuelled speculation about who will get his coveted portfolio.
Railway Minister Goyal, who filled in for Jaitley and presented the populist pre-election budget, is being seen as a key contender. The BJP has refrained from making any official comment about the likely members of the government, with its leaders asserting that it is the prime minister's prerogative.
The swearing-in ceremony in the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan is expected to be grand affair with more than 8,000 guests, including leaders from the BIMSTEC countries, opposition leaders Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi, chief ministers, corporate honchos and film stars set to be in attendance as President Ram Nath Kovind administers the oath of office and secrecy to 68-year-old Modi and his ministerial colleagues.