Consensus on Cabinet expansion still elusive

Consensus on Cabinet expansion still elusive

Divergent views come to fore at the meeting between BJP core committee and RSS

After four hours of deliberations in Bangalore, Yeddyurappa and Eshwarappa announced to mediapersons that the committee members would meet again on Sunday to finalise the list of candidates who would get the ministerial  berth. They also said that a date for the Cabinet expansion will also be finalised on Sunday.

The differences between the two leaders came to fore with Eshwarappa stating that four ministers may face the axe to get new faces on board, while the Chief Minister remained non-committal. Three ministerial berths are vacant now and the CM is keen on filling up those many. He is ready to accommodate a maximum of two more leaders while dropping that many, it is said.

Ananth Kumar did not attend the meeting as he is said to be indisposed. However, Yeddyurappa, Eshwarappa and D V Sadananda Gowda, soon after the core panel meeting, met Ananth Kumar at his residence.

The CM wants Shobha Karandlaje and V Somanna back in the Cabinet, and former MP C H Vijayashankar be given a ministerial berth. However, Eshwarappa is said to have insisted at the meeting that a comprehensive reshuffle be taken up by taking seniority, representation to districts and communities as the yardstick.

Indications are that Yeddyurappa will expand his Cabinet on September 22.  V Somanna, Shobha Karandlaje, C H Vijayashankar,  Appu Pattana Shetty or S K Belubbi , C T Ravi or D N Jeevaraj, A Narayanaswamy and A Ramadas are among the probable who will be inducted to the Cabinet.

Those likely to be dropped, according to the speculations, are D Sudhakar, Shivanagouda Patil, Anand Asnotikar and Mumtaz Ali Khan.

Summoned

Animal Husbandry Minister Revu Naik Belmagi was summoned to the party core-committee meeting. This led to speculation that the party leadership had sounded him to put in his papers. However, Belmagi denied the same and said he had come to clarify a few party matters to the chief minister.

There was some drama outside the residence of chief minister when the mayor, deputy mayor and several corporators of Davanagere City Corporation sought an audience with Yeddyurappa. They had come to Bangalore to request the Yeddyurapa not to drop their leader - Agriculture Minister S A Ravindranath - from the Cabinet. They left after Yeddyurappa assured them that he had no plans to replace Ravindranath as he has worked for the party.

Sources said Ananth Kumar is not keen on either an expansion or reshuffle till the completion of zilla and taluk panchayat polls, scheduled to be held in November-December this year. It is said he favours continuation of the present arrangement till the completion of the polls.

Others who were present at the meeting included Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister Jagadish Shettar, former state party president D V Sadananda Gowda, RSS functionaries Prabhakar Bhat, Mangesh Bande and BJP General Secretary Organisation Santosh.

Berth pangs

* Ananth Kumar absents himself from the meeting
*  Three ministerial berths are vacant
*  CM wants Shobha Karandlaje and Somanna back in Cabinet
*  Four ministers are likely to  be dropped from the Cabinet

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