Ahead of Karnataka Cabinet expansion, suspense over ministerial berths

Topics Karnataka | B S Yediyurappa | BJP

BS Yediyurappa

Reflecting the mood ahead of the cabinet expansion on Thursday, Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Wednesday put the ball in the BJP high command's court regarding the number of ministers to be inducted. "It is only after the evening things will be clear when we get information from Delhi (BJP central leadership)," he told reporters in the district headquarters town of Kalaburagi.

He was replying to a query by reporters who wished to know whether 13 aspirants, including ten who defected from Congress-JD(S), helped BJP bring down the H D Kumaraswamy-led coalition government and won the bypolls on the ruling party ticket in December, would be inducted into the cabinet.

The Chief Minister, however, asserted the swearing-in ceremony would take place on Thursday at 10.30 a.m at the Raj Bhavan.

Briefing reporters on Sunday, Yediyurappa had said '10 plus three' will take oath on February 6, apparently referring to the induction of only 10 out of 11 (who defected to BJP from Congress-JD(S)) winners of the by-polls.

This statement created quite a confusion among the defectors from the Congress and JD(S) who had quit their party and were disqualified and later 13 of them contested the by- elections on BJP ticket. The Chief Minister had earlier promised ministerial berths to all of them.

However, reflecting on the "internal pulls and pressures", he indicated that three others to be inducted on Thursday will be the 'native BJP' leaders.

Rumour mills were agog that the eleventh legislator among the defectors is Athani MLA Mahesh Kumathalli whereas the three 'native BJP leaders' could be Mahadevapura MLA Arvind Limbavali, Hukkeri MLA Umesh Katti and C P Yogeshwar who had lost to former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy from Channapatna.

The two defectors who unsuccessfully contested the by-election have been pushing for cabinet berth for them as a "mark of tribute for their sacrifice of leaving their former party, resigning from the Assembly and then getting disqualified by the Speaker only to install the BJP government." Kumathalli had turned emotional following speculations he will not secure a Cabinet berth.

"We have trusted him (Yediyurappa). We are ready to dowhatever work he will assign. We will firmly remain with theBJP but I am hurt," Kumathalli had said on Sunday.

A H Vishwanath, who had lost the by-election from Hunasuru, reminded Yediyurappa of his "Vachana Dharma".

"It is up to him to keep his 'vachana dharma'. I am not going to call him. It is up to him," an apparently aggrievedVishwanath had told reporters in Mysuru on Monday. He had evencalled on the Chief Minister earlier. Some of 'native BJP leaders' have been pressing the party high command, putting forth their candidature.

The MLAs from Kalyana Karnataka region or the erstwhile Hyderabad-Karnataka region gathered on Monday demanding aministerial post to any of the MLAs from their region.

Led by Honnalli MLA M P Renukacharya and Shorapur MLA Narasimha Nayak aka Raju Gouda, these MLAs demanded theirregion should get adequate representation for the overalldevelopment of the region. Haveri MLA Neharu Olekar too demanded a ministerial berth for him on Tuesday.

"Our demand is that a person from the Scheduled Tribe should get proper representation in the cabinet. I had met the Chief Minister on Monday and explained the problems to him," hetold reporters on Tuesday.

Besides the Chief Minister, the MLAs are also making a beeline before Yediyurappa's son B Y Vijayendra ahead of the cabinet expansion.

Vijayendra had demonstrated his political acumen when he made a dent into the JD(S) bastion Mandya district in the by-elections and won a seat for the BJP by ensuring victory for Narayana Gowda from Krishnarajpet.

"There is nothing unusual about it. I frequently visitVijayendra ever since I joined the BJP," Mahalakshmi LayoutMLA K Gopalaiah told reporters after meeting him.

The Congress and the JD(S) have been watching the developments with curiosity even as "dissatisfaction" is hitting some sections of the ruling BJP ahead of crucial cabinet expansion.

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