The long-delayed cabinet expansion in Karnataka might take place next month, with Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa indicating on Sunday that it may take place in mid-January, around Makara Sankranti.
"The high command has asked me to come after a week. Maybe by the end of this month, we will finalise the list (cabinet expansion)," he told reporters after the oath-taking ceremony of 13 of the 15 newly elected MLAs at the Vidhana Soudha, the state secretariat.
Asked whether the news of the cabinet expansion would come in Sankranti, he said: "maybe by that time." The Chief Minister said he needed time to carry out the rejig and expansion as he has to leave for Delhi and hold discussions with the party high command.
To a question on cabinet berths to the newly-elected BJP MLAs, Yediyurappa said, "There are no differences of opinion on this issue with party leaders in Delhi. We had promised the newly-elected MLAs that we will make them ministers, which we will fulfill. There is no doubt about it". Those who took oath as MLAs on Sunday were Mahesh Kumathalli (Athani constituency), Srimant Patil (Kagwad), Ramesh Jarkiholi (Gokak), Shivaram Hebbar (Yellapur), B C Patil (Hirekerur), Arun Kumar Pujar (Rane Bennur), Anand Singh (Vijayanagar), Dr K Sudhakar (Chikkaballapur), Byrathi Basavaraj (KR Puram), S T Somashekhar (Yashwanthapur), K Gopalaiah (Mahalakshmi Layout), Sharath Bachegowda (Hoskote), M C Narayana Gowda (KR Pet).
Two Congress MLAs Rizwan Arshad (Shivajinagar) and P Manjunath (Hunsur) did not take oath on Sunday. Of the 13 disqualified MLAs fielded by BJP, 11 won the December 5 bypolls while two others M T B Nagaraj and A H Vishwanath lost the election.
The cabinet expansion would not be an easy task as Yediyurappa would have to strike a balance by accommodating the victorious disqualified legislators as he had promised and also make a place for old guards, upset at being "neglected" in the first round of the induction exercise.
He also has to give adequate representation to various castes and regions in his cabinet, which currently has 18 ministers, including the Chief Minister, and the sanctioned strength is 34. Though Yediyurappa had made it clear that the 11 disqualified MLAs who successfully contested the bypolls on party tickets would be made Ministers, Nagaraj and Vishwanath are lobbying hard to get ministerial berths, said BJP sources.