Ahead of the formation of the new Council of Ministers by the NDA government, Narendra Modi cautioned his colleagues " both old and new Members of Parliament of the BJP, who have recently been elected in the Lok Sabha polls, not to pay heed to rumours about getting a berth in the cabinet.
Addressing the newly elected BJP MPs on Saturday evening at the Central Hall of the Parliament, Modi asked his colleagues to stay away from any kind of rumours related to selection of MPs for ministerial berth.
"Don't pay heed to any such gossips and rumours, even if it has appeared in the press or telecast on TV channels," Modi cautioned.
In as many words, the prime minister-elect asserted that he would not encourage any sort of lobbying from any MP for the post of a minister.
After the announcement of election results, the much-awaited moment for the voters of this country is the appointment of ministers and their portfolios.
Much speculation exists both within the media and outside it about the MPs to be finally selected for the oath-taking ceremony.
Citing examples of when the ministers actually chosen were different from the rumours floating around, Modi said, "We've got a huge majority as a large number of MPs have been elected both in the BJP and within our alliance partners. Everyone has an aspiration but it's not possible to adjust everyone in the Council of Ministers, as there's a limitation. We get to hear about rumours that a particular MP would be made a minister. These are false and you shouldn't fall into the trap of such rumours and false calls."
Modi advised the MPs " many of them first timers and not even from the political field like former cricketer Gautam Gambhir and Sufi singer Hans Raj Hans from Delhi, actor Sunny Deol from Gurdaspur, or even Pragya Singh Thakur from Bhopal " not to respond to such calls. He asked them to even if it's from the topmost authority like the PMO, one should cross-check it.
The aspiration of a politician is first to become an MP and then to be a minister in the government. Corruption in such cases plays a crucial role. It has become a part of political folklore that in some cases, money changes hands for appointment to a ministerial post.
Strictly against corruption, Modi probably wanted to make his newly-elected colleagues aware about the incidents of alleged bribes offered to get a ministerial berth.
During the last cabinet expansion, an MP from the NDA alliance reached New Delhi with high hopes that he would be made a minister. Despite lobbying, it didn't materialise and the said MP had to leave New Delhi frustrated.
Those who are aware about central Indian states like Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and their politics know well that Modi had been party in-charge of Chhattisgarh in the past. He had spent considerable time in the state that built the foundation for the saffron party. Many from the BJP and RSS who had spent hours with Modi talk even today about those fond memories.
Narrating one such incident related to Chhattisgarh, he said, "One day, I found a leader (Raman Singh) from Chhattisgarh who rushed to Gujarat, when I was the chief minister. I was surprised when he told me that he had come as he received a call from me. I told him that I didn't call him. This is the type of confusion one faces due to such false calls or rumours."
Without saying his famous lines after he became prime minister in 2014, "na khaunga, na khaane doonga (neither shall I accept bribe, nor will I allow anyone to do it)," Modi emphatically gave a strong message, "I want to make it absolutely clear that I won't encourage any sort of lobbying from anyone for the post of a minister. So stay away from it."
Besides fresh MPs, he probably wanted to give a message to former ministers and MPs who have got re-elected that 'performance is paramount'. If one fails to perform, he or she may lose the job.