- Changes likely in ministries of home, finance, defence, foreign affairs
- Changes may be made to accommodate BJP allies in the new cabinet
- Nitish Kumar has asked for 2 cabinet berths for his party: sources
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's second oath ceremony on Thursday - after his massive victory in the national elections - was preceded by a flurry of meetings at his house and that of party chief Amit Shah on Wednesday evening. Along with the Prime Minister, his council of ministers will also take oath at a dazzling ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan that will be attended by world leaders, celebrities and politicians.
While the number and names of the leaders who would take oath as ministers in the second stint of the NDA government have been kept under wraps, there is much speculation about the composition of the cabinet.
PM Modi and Amit Shah - who had a five-hour meeting on Tuesday - met again on Wednesday evening for a three-hour session. While no details were available, the meetings are understood to be part of the process of finalising the government portfolios.
While the Prime Minister met Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, party chief Amit Shah met Arjun Ram Meghwal, who was the junior minister for Parliamentary Affairs, and Ram Lal, the BJP's General Secretary of Organisation. Principal Secretary to PM Modi, Nripendra Mishra and Additional Secretary PK Mishra also attended the sessions at Amit Shah's residence.
The Prime Minister also visited senior leader Arun Jaitley, who wrote to him earlier on Wednesday, saying he could not be part of the new government for now as he is under doctors' orders to take care of his health.
Mr Jaitley - who has been ailing for a while - had handled the finance portfolio and the Prime Minister is expected to ask him to reconsider his decision.
There might be some changes in the key ministries of home, finance, defence and external affairs. But sources indicated no major change is likely in the line-up after that and most ministers may stay on.
Some changes, though, are likely to be made to accommodate allies like Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United and the Akali Dal and also to ensure representation of Bengal, Odisha and the northeast - new zones that have embraced the party.
Sources indicated that Nitish Kumar, the Bihar ally who acted as catalyst in the BJP's massive victory in the state, has asked for two cabinet berths.
There has been speculation about Amit Shah joining the cabinet but many in the BJP say it cannot afford to lose his organizational skills at a time the party needs to win crucial state elections ahead and raise its numbers in the Rajya Sabha.
Sources have told NDTV that PM Modi is expected to call ministers-designate on Thursday for morning tea at this residence.