Cabinet expansion: Pressure shifts to K'taka BJP chief

Cabinet expansion: Pressure shifts to K'taka BJP chief

 Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa, BJP National Secratary Rama Madhav and BJP State President Nalin Kumar Kateel during a meeting for Citizenship Amendment Act in Bengaluru, Monday, Dec. 30, 2019. (PTI Photo)

After Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa reaffirmed his image as the tallest leader in the state BJP by winning 12 of the 15 seats in the recent byelections, the ball now appears to be in state party president Nalin Kumar Kateel’s court, ahead of the pending Cabinet expansion.

Yediyurappa’s decision to induct into his Cabinet all the newly elected legislators has left several original party leaders unhappy, leaving Kateel with the responsibility to pacify them, it is learnt.

Apparently, Yediyurappa has deflected demands for ministerial berths from BJP MLAs towards Kateel, saying that he had to honour the promise made to newly-elected legislators.

“Only eight-time MLA from Hukkeri, Umesh Katti, has been promised a Cabinet berth. Other leaders approaching the CM have been redirected to the party president,” a source said.

Kateel has also been tasked with the responsibility of finding a balance between the old BJP guard and the newly elected MLAs.Apart from Katti, several other MLAs elected multiple times from their constituencies have made their aspirations clear to the CM. They include BJP general secretary Aravind Limbavali, former speaker K G Bopaiah, former union minister and MLA Basangouda Patil Yatnal and six-time MLA S Angara.

“Considering the wide range of demands, including abolition of the deputy CM’s post, it won’t be a surprise if the Cabinet is reshuffled when new ministers are inducted,” sources said.

The delay by Yediyurappa in meeting the BJP high command has also led to uncertainty about when the Cabinet will be expanded. Even though Yediyurappa had spoken of travelling to Delhi by the end of December to discuss the Cabinet expansion, he is yet to do so. The chief minister’s scheduled visit to Davos for the World Economic Forum meeting may also be a cause for concern for the new MLAs, as this might delay the Cabinet expansion. Despite the confusions, sources say it will take place by the end of January.

“New ministers are likely to be inducted ahead of the CM’s visit to Davos as there has been tremendous pressure from the new MLAs,” sources said.

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