Gowda puts off ministry expansion

Karnataka Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda today deferred his plans to expand the cabinet till the completion of the Udupi-Chikmaglur Lok Sabha byelection slated for next month.

Karnataka Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda

"We will expand the cabinet after the bypoll results," Gowda told reporters here.
Saddled with a whopping 16 portfolios, Gowda had yesterday said he proposed to expand his ministry "shortly" and would seek the BJP central leadership's nod for the exercise.

There are 11 ministerial vacancies in the state as against its permitted strength of 34 and Gowda is expected to fill at least seven berths.

Four vacancies arose this month alone with the resignation of three ministers who were caught on camera watching sleazy clippings on their mobile phone in the assembly and the death of Higher Education Minister V S Acharya.

The Election Commission yesterday announced the schedule for the byelection to Udupi-Chikmagalur, a seat vacated by Gowda after his election to the state assembly.

Gowda also said the announcement about the new Lokayukta would be made only after the bypoll.

The government has already set in motion afresh the process of consultation to select the candidate to head the anti-corruption watchdog after Governor H R Bhardwaj recently rejected the BJP Government's choice of former Kerala High Court chief justice S R Bannurmath.

A few days ago, Gowda had said he would write to Opposition leaders on the Lokayukta appointment and the process would be completed in ten days. The Lokayukta post has been lying vacant in the state for the past nearly five months.
The announcement of the bypoll has also put a question mark over the presentation of state budget for 2012-13.

"Since the poll code will come into effect from the date of announcement of the poll calender, the budget cannot be presented. We need to clarify with Election Commission of India," state election commission sources said.

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