Nearly a month after assuming office, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa will expand his ministry on Tuesday (August 20) by inducting 17 ministers in the first phase.
This will be the first-ever expansion of Yediyurappa’s ministry after he assumed office on July 26 and proved his government’s majority on the floor of the Assembly on July 29.
Having run the government with a “one-man cabinet” for over 20 days, the chief minister had on Saturday managed to get the nod from BJP national president Amit Shah to undertake the exercise on August 20.
Governor Vajubhai Vala will administer the oath of office and secrecy to the newly appointed Council of Ministers at the Raj Bhavan at 10:30 AM on Tuesday.
“The cabinet expansion will take place between 10:30 AM and 11:30 AM tomorrow. I have already written a letter to the Governor in this regard (to administer oath). I have asked the Chief Secretary to make all arrangements,” Yediyurappa said earlier on Monday (August 19).
Speaking to reporters here, he said that a cabinet meeting would be held after the expansion.
However, with no clarity yet on who all are to be inducted into the Ministry, aspirants and the state BJP leadership are anxiously awaiting clear instructions from the party high command in Delhi.
“There is absolutely no information yet from Delhi. We are still waiting… though the media are running a few names, it is mere speculation as there is no word yet from the high command. It looks like most of us will get to know about it only tomorrow morning when called to take the oath,” a senior party functionary and seen as a top contender for Minister post told PTI.
After returning from Delhi on Saturday night, Yediyurappa said that he had held talks with Shah and would get clear instructions from the central leadership by Monday evening on who all were to be inducted.
Asked about the number of ministers likely to be inducted, he had said, “13 to 14 people are likely to be inducted into the cabinet in the first phase; there may be plus or minus one or two, we have now recommended 13 to 14 of them.”
The BJP central leadership is likely to have its complete say on the list of Ministers, which may have a mix of young and old guards, a party functionary said, adding that until the list was out, whatever they say would be mere speculation.
According to reports, the chief minister’s loyalists are worried about BJP National General Secretary (Organisation) BL Santosh, who is from Karnataka and considered Yediyurappa’s bete noire, being consulted before clearing the list.
Yediyurappa has had a tightrope to walk during the cabinet expansion as he had to craft a fine caste and regional balance in view of a large number of aspirants. But, with the high command having its final say, any voices of open expression of dissent were unlikely, sources said.
They pointed out that there was no open expression of ministerial aspirations or lobbying for posts as legislators feared that it may go against their interests. With no decision yet by the Supreme Court on disqualified Congress-JD(S) MLAs, whose resignation from the Assembly paved the way for the BJP to gain power, the Chief Minister has no immediate compulsion to accommodate them.
The then speaker Ramesh Kumar had disqualified 17 Congress-JD(S) rebels under the anti-defection law till the end of the assembly term, which they have challenged in the Supreme Court. Only on getting any relief from the Supreme Court can the disqualified MLAs contest the by-polls.
According to sources, if they get re-elected, BJP plans to make them ministers as promised and Yediyurappa would not fill all the remaining 33 ministerial positions in one go.
Amid pressure from within, the opposition Congress and JD(S) too had hit out at the BJP over the delay in cabinet expansion and had even raised questions about government’s “existence”. Congress had even said that Yediyurappa’s one-man cabinet administration “resembled President’s rule.”