Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s allies on Friday endorsed Narendra Modi as the leader of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Parliamentary Party, setting the stage for his third term as the Prime Minister, even as Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader Chandrababu Naidu underlined the need for regional aspirations and national interests to go hand in hand to ensure holistic development of all sections.

Narendra Modi speaking at the NDA Parliamentary Party meeting. (PTI)

Naidu lauded Modi for making India the world’s fifth-largest economy and said they are confident that it will become either number one or two under his leadership. “At the same time, Indians under his leadership globally will become number one. As of today, Indians, every you go, if you go anywhere in the world, have the highest per capita income…Indians are earning. I am confident under his leadership, Indians are going to become global leaders.”

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He said India is going to serve the global community in public and corporate governance. Naidu cited Modi’s vision of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas (inclusive development), and Viksit Bharat (developed India). He added with the collective efforts of the NDA, India can become a zero-poverty nation.

Naidu lauded Modi’s zeal during campaigning. “In Andhra Pradesh, we had three public meetings and one big rally. It made a huge difference in winning the elections in Andhra Pradesh. [Union] home minister [Amit Shah] also came. He addressed one meeting. It changed the situation in a big way. Rajnath Singh, [JP] Nadda, and [Nitin] Gadkari addressed rallies. It gave confidence to people that the Centre is with the state,” Naidu said.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar of the Janata Dal (United) or JD(U) acknowledged the dip in the seats of the BJP. He said Modi had lost in some places but next time the Opposition will lose everywhere. “I am completely confident. … [the Opposition] has done no work thus far, has not served the nation at all. But you [Modi] have done so much for the nation that they will have no chance in the future. The country will progress very far. Bihar will also be sorted. … Whatever you need, we will continue to support you. Everybody is together. We will move together,” Kumar said.

He said his only request is that Modi’s swearing-in ceremony should take place at the earliest. “It will take place on Sunday. I wanted it today [Friday],” he said.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh earlier proposed Modi’s name as the leader of the NDA Parliamentary Party. His colleagues Amit Shah, Nitin Gadkari, and top NDA leaders backed the proposal.

The NDA meeting was held against the backdrop of negotiations to form the next government. Allies have been jockeying for crucial Cabinet berths behind the scenes even as NDA leaders remained tight-lipped and projected a united front.

Kumar and Naidu were scheduled to join Modi in meeting President Droupadi Murmu to present her with the list of parliamentarians supporting him.

On Thursday, the TDP and JD(U), the second and third largest constituents of the NDA, held meetings and finalised the list of demands. Nadda and Shah separately met Modi after meeting Rajnath Singh to discuss portfolio allocation.

The BJP fell short of the halfway mark of 272 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha for the first time since 2014, making it dependent on allies for the next government formation.

TDP, which has 16 parliamentarians, was likely to seek five ministerial berths and two more for pre-poll ally Jana Sena, which won two seats. The party was also expected to ask for special status for revenue-starved Andhra Pradesh, which lost IT Hyderabad to Telangana during the state’s bifurcation in 2014.

HT on Friday reported that TDP is keen on getting the Lok Sabha Speaker’s position in addition to ministries such as urban development, information technology, road transport, and highways.

JDU, which has 12 parliamentarians, is likely to demand four ministerial berths and special status for Bihar. NDA won 30 out of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar. The JD(U) was hoping to get two Cabinet and two ministers of state berths accommodating a mix of castes and communities for maximum political leverage ahead of Bihar assembly elections due next year. In 2019, JD(U) turned down a token representation of one berth in the Union Cabinet.

The JD(U) was seeking portfolios such as railways, the country’s biggest recruiter, and rural development, that will help it consolidate its position in Bihar ahead of the 2025 state polls.

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde of the Shiv Sena, who was among those who spoke at the NDA meeting, said the Opposition tried to mislead people by spreading rumours and lies. He added the people saw through it to accept Modi as the prime minister. “Everybody is a witness to the work that was done in 10 years. People chose development while the Opposition that chose only politicking has been made to sit at home,” Shinde said. He called Shiv Sena’s bond with the BJP unbreakable.

Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas Paswan)’s Chirag Paswan said Modi was the only one with the determination and he registered a decisive victory. As he moved off the dais, Chirag hugged Modi.

Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy, Nationalist Congress Party’s Ajit Pawar, Jana Sena Party’s Pawan Kalyan, Hindustani Awam Morcha’s Jitan Ram Manjhi, and Apna Dal (S) Party’s Anupriya Patel were among others who attended the NDA meeting.

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