Karnataka Cabinet expansion today; BJP firm against BSY

The Vijayendra conundrum forced Bommai to stay put in New Delhi on Tuesday

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai during the Monsoon Session of Parliament in New Delhi, Tuesday, August 3, 2021. Credit: PTI Photo

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai will induct ministers into his Cabinet on Wednesday after hectic parleying that finally ended with the BJP central leadership “summarily rejecting” his predecessor B S Yediyurappa’s threats if his son B Y Vijayendra was not inducted. 

The Vijayendra conundrum forced Bommai to stay put in New Delhi on Tuesday, cancelling his return to Bengaluru to hold back-to-back meetings with the top brass, under pressure from Yediyurappa who wanted a ministerial berth for his son.

Bommai told reporters late Tuesday night that BJP national president J P Nadda would speak to Yediyurappa about Vijayendra. “After I reach Bengaluru (on Wednesday morning), I will be informed by the party on how many ministers will take their oath,” he said.

In the first phase, the party may allow 22-25 ministers to get inducted on Wednesday. This will include ‘native’ BJP legislators as well as the ‘migrants’ who defected from the previous Congress-JD(S) coalition.

Also read: New Karnataka CM Bommai lets go of advisors picked by B S Yediyurappa

According to sources, Yediyurappa exerted pressure on Bommai to ensure Vijayendra’s induction. Yediyurappa wanted Vijayendra, currently the BJP vice-president, to be made deputy chief minister or a Cabinet minister, sources said. The Lingayat strongman even threatened to float a new party. In 2013, Yediyurappa managed to damage the BJP through the KJP. 

But the BJP central leadership stood firm against the former CM’s threats. Their argument is that Vijayendra’s induction would create a parallel power centre in the government.

When Bommai conveyed Yediyurappa’s demand to the top brass, BJP national general secretary (organisation) B L Santhosh strongly opposed it, citing the party’s stand on dynasty politics. In hectic political developments that followed, Bommai met Nadda and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. While Nadda and Shah opposed Vijayendra’s inclusion, BJP’s Karnataka in-charge Arun Singh favoured it, sources said.

Bommai had almost finalised his list on Monday itself. He was to leave for Bengaluru at 11 am Tuesday. However, on a call from party leaders, he rescheduled his return to 7.30 pm. It was reset again to 9.15 pm. After his meeting with Shah, Bommai cancelled his return plan and huddled with Union Minister Pralhad Joshi till late in the night.

Another bone of contention was whether or not Bommai should have deputies. Apparently, Bommai convinced the BJP central leadership, which was not in favour of having these posts. Bommai might get three deputies -- Govind Karjol, B Sriramulu and CN Ashwath Narayan. 

We’re yet to get clarity on the induction of a couple of names and on having deputy CMs. After I reach Bengaluru (on Wednesday morning), I will be informed by the party on this,” he said.