After sweeping bypolls, BS Yediyurappa gears up for Karnataka Cabinet expansion, faces tough balancing act between victorious rebel MLAs, old guard
As Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa prepares for cabinet expansion after his four-month-old government retained a majority in the Karnataka Assembly by sweeping the bypolls, developments on Tuesday indicated that he has a tough task ahead.
The ruling BJP on Monday had swept the by-elections, winning 12 of the total of 15 seats
Yediyurappa on Tuesday said he would soon hold discussions with the central leadership on cabinet expansion
Eleven of the 13 disqualified legislators, who successfully contested the bypolls on BJP tickets, are expected to become ministers soon
Bengaluru: As Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa prepares for cabinet expansion after his four-month-old government retained a majority in the Karnataka Assembly by sweeping the bypolls, developments on Tuesday indicated that he has a tough task ahead.
The ruling BJP on Monday had swept the by-elections, winning 12 of the total of 15 seats.
Yediyurappa on Tuesday said he would soon hold discussions with the central leadership on cabinet expansion.
"In another three to four days I will go to Delhi to meet Amit Shah (BJP National President) and Prime Minister (Narendra Modi), when they decide we will do it (Cabinet expansion)," Yediyurappa said.
"As I had given an assurance that those who had resigned and left (the Congress and JD(S)) and won the bypolls… making them ministers is our responsibility, I have accepted it and will execute it hundred percent," he told reporters.
Eleven of the 13 disqualified legislators, who successfully contested the bypolls on BJP tickets, are expected to become ministers soon.
However, cabinet expansion will not be an easy task as Yediyurappa will have to strike a balance by accommodating the victorious disqualified legislators as he had promised and also make 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 that already has eight Lingayats, including the chief minister himself, three Vokkaligas, three from Scheduled Caste, two OBCs, one Scheduled Tribe, and a Brahmin.
Region-wise, Bengaluru Urban, with four Ministers and Belagavi and Shivamogga, with two each, have a larger share in the Ministry.
Including the chief minister, there are currently 18 ministers in the cabinet, whose sanctioned strength is 34.
With indications about cabinet expansions on the cards, several ministerial aspirants, both old and newly-elected, have met Yediyurappa to push their case, party sources said.
A few senior BJP leaders like Umesh Katti (eight time MLA) and Thippareddy (six- time MLA) who were not accommodated in the first round, are among the front-runners for berths.
In fact, Thippareddy supporters in Chitradurga staged a demonstration, demanding that he be made a Minister.
Speaking to reporters after meeting Yediyurappa, KC Narayana Gowda, newly elected BJP MLA from KR Pete,who ensured the first ever victory for the party in the Vokkaliga bastion of Mandya district said, "Whatever the chief minister gives, I will accept it. I have not made any demand."
There are also demands from supporters of disqualified legislators who contested the bypolls on the BJP ticket and lost — AH Vishwanath (Hunasuru) and MTB Nagaraj (Hosakote) — to make them ministers.
Not willing to respond to a question on this, Yediyurappa said "I don't want to talk about them (to the media), I will talk to them personally."
Recently there was speculation in BJP circles that all disqualified legislators who contested the bypolls on the party ticket would be made ministers, irrespective of whether they won or not and MLC option was being considered to make them ministers.
However, some senior party leaders are said to be opposed to this idea. Meanwhile, disqualified legislators who were elected as BJP MLAs maintained that all disqualified legislators, whether they won or lost, were united and would meet soon.
"MTB Nagaraj and Vishwanth lost due to various reasons. There is no question of leaving them alone. All of us (who were disqualified) are together, we will call and talk to them.
We are all one, whether we have won or lost," newly elected BJP MLA from Yeshwanthpura, ST Somashekar said.
Alleging that injustice has been meted out to Nagaraj and Vishwanath, newly elected Gokak MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi, without divulging more details, said "We will try to rectify it, I don't want to talk more about it. On certain things I cannot talk."
He also said that all the disqualified legislators would meet soon and hold discussions.
Allocating plum portfolios will be another hard task that Yediyurappa will have to tackle with and strike a balance between old and the new BJP MLAs.
Newly elected KR Puram MLA Byrathi Basavaraj on Tuesday told reporters he has sought the plum Bengaluru Development Ministry, from the chief minister, a department which several senior BJP Ministers have set their eyes on.
"The chief minister had said that I will be given Ministerial post. I asked for Bengaluru Development related Ministry as I have experience on city affairs. I have also given a few alternative portfolios. Let's see what Chief Minister decides," he said.
On Tuesday, Yediyurappa also took up the task of pacifying Nagaraj who was defeated in Hosakote and is upset over BJP MP BN Bachegowda allegedly working against him in the bypolls.
Nagaraj, who met Yediyurappa, reportedly complained against Bachegowda, whose son Sharath Bachegowda won as an independent from Hoskote against him
He accused the MP of working in favour of his son instead of the party's official candidate, leading to his defeat.
Later in the day, Yediyurappa also visited Naragarj's residence and said he will talk to the party leadership about giving a "suitable position" to him.
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