Cabinet expansion on Feb 2; Bypoll losers to wait

Cabinet expansion likely on February 2; Bypoll losers may have to wait

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa

As Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa held the final round of talks with the BJP central leadership over expanding or reshuffling his Cabinet, several ministerial hopefuls continued to lobby for berths on Thursday.

While new ministers will likely be inducted on Sunday, suspense prevailed over continuation of the deputy chief ministers, which has already attracted criticism from within the BJP.

Govind Karjol, the seniormost among the three deputy CMs, said his continuation as Yediyurappa’s second-in-command in the Cabinet was left to the BJP central leadership. 

Virajpet MLA KG Bopaiah travelled to Delhi to lobby for a Cabinet berth, while the likes of Athani MLA Mahesh Kumathalli, besides being a ministerial aspirant himself, demanded that Gokak MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi be appointed as a deputy CM. Several other legislators, prominently from coastal districts of the state where BJP swept the Assembly polls in 2018, are also learnt to be exerting pressure to ensure a spot in the cabinet.

Yediyurappa will have to induct at least 12 new faces in his Cabinet, including 11 newly-elected MLAs. Even though indications are that only 6-7 of the newly-elected MLAs will be part of the expanded Cabinet, Yediyurappa has reassured that all 11 will be accommodated.  Sources said that the central leadership is keen on inducting equal number of native BJP leaders, along with six newly elected MLAs.

Meanwhile, Health Minister B Sriramulu reiterated the “demand of the community” for him to be appointed as Deputy CM, adding that high command will take the final call. 

“The decision to induct those who lost the recent bypolls (M T B Nagaraj and A H Vishwanath) will be taken by the high command,” Karjol said. Sources say that the duo is unlikely to feature in the Cabinet till June at least. Apparently, the BJP is wary of being seen as going against the Supreme Court order on appointing those who lost elections to positions of power. Nagaraj and Vishwanath are expected to be included in the Cabinet after their election to the Legislative Council.

Another MLA K Gopalaiah also expressed confidence that Yediyurappa will keep his promise of making the newly elected MLAs ministers.