After Arun Jaitley’s letter Wednesday to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting that he not be included in the new cabinet on health grounds, fuelling debate about the possible contenders for the coveted role. Swapan Dasgupta, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha shares his views on the issue with CNBC-TV18.
Dasgupta said that it is certain that Arun Jaitley is not going to be the finance minister and Amit Shah, who is speculated to join the Cabinet in Modi's second term, is unlikely to leave his post as the BJP chief. So the contenders for the finance minister's post really boils down to a few people who have certain degree of familiarity with the economic situation for what is a highly skilled job. There are about four to five short listed people who can be the FM, he said.
The uncertainty will remain till 7 pm today, he added.
“Mr Arun Jaitley is not very well and needs little time to recover and the finance ministry is exacting job. Jaitley wrote the letter to the PM not casually, the relationship between Modi and Jaitley is extremely cordial and one based on mutual trust. I think for the moment till he recovers his health, Jaitley would prefer to stay out,” sad Dasgupta.
Sharing his rationale on the matter of Amit Shah staying as the Bharatiya Janata Party president, he said: “The most important point of why Amit Shah is important to the BJP at this point is not merely because of his organisational prowess but more importantly is that he has a tremendous measure of authority within the BJP and that is the authority which he has acquired steadily since 2014 on the strength of his political competence, and at this time, when the BJP is considerably sprawling organisation, I would be extremely surprised and knowing the inclination of Amit Shah that he would relinquish this post at this juncture.
“The authority that Amit Shah commands as party president is probably far greater than he would have when he is in the cabinet. So, if I was a betting man, I would say status quo [will be maintained] as far as the presidency of the BJP is concerned,” he added.
When asked if Modi would pick a technocrat as the next FM or if will he want to avoid a political heavyweight like Amit Shah, Dasgupta said: "I don’t think Amit Shah is likely to go for any of the Cabinet jobs. We are basically going to see a political person but a political person from within the pack.”
He added: “Under the circumstances, in my view anybody who undertakes the job of finance minister will not be a lone player, he or she will have to be a team player that is really what is on offer. I think unnecessary emphasis is being attached to an individual."