BJP National General Secretary (Organisation) BL Santhosh on Tuesday met Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa at his official residence Krishna to discuss the issue of cabinet expansion, gram panchayat elections and strengthening the party's presence in the Old Mysuru region. Sources told TNM that the high command wants to expand the cabinet and not reshuffle it in order to avoid internal feuds.
Sources told TNM that BL Santhosh and Yediyurappa discussed allotting four new cabinet positions, of which three are for former Congress legislators. Sources said that BJP MLCs MTB Nagaraju, R Shankar and Raja Rajeshwari Nagar MLA Munirathna Naidu would be given ministerial berths if the cabinet expansion goes through before December. Besides, Chief Minister Yediyurappa is said to have maintained that the fourth berth be given to his long-time friend and Hukkeri MLA Umesh Katti.
BJP insiders privy to the discussions at the meeting said that BL Santhosh and a few others in the party want the cabinet expansion to take place after the winter session of the Assembly, which is slated to be held from December 7 to 15. "Some important bills have to be passed, and an internal rift due to cabinet expansion is not going conducive," the source added.
The two leaders also discussed building up the party organisation in areas which have been elusive to the BJP, especially the Old Mysuru region. BJP sources said that Santhosh advised BJP state President Nalin Kumar Kateel, stating that party leaders should be travelling to various districts and overseeing the organisation work. "He has suggested that district in-charge ministers take on the role of building up the party's base, especially in the Old Mysuru region immediately in view of the upcoming gram panchayat elections," the source added.
Among other issues that were discussed was in connection with the â€śGram Swarajâ€ť programme, where six senior ministers will be in charge of organising conventions in the state and BJP National President JP Nadda is expected to attend one such convention.
BL Santhosh also met Karnataka Water Resources Minister RameshJarkiholi at a hotel in Bengaluru. Jarkiholi is said to have requested Santhosh to ask the high command to approve the cabinet expansion. However, Santhosh is said to have informed Jarkiholi that the issue of cabinet expansion is not in his hands. Sources in the state unit also said that the meeting could have been held as the national leaders are planning a leadership change in Karnataka, since Yediyurappa is due to retire soon.
BS Yediyurappa had said last week that the cabinet expansion would take place in three days. However, that deadline passed on Saturday with many legislators lobbying for a reshuffle. A BJP source had told TNM earlier that many legislators were disappointed at not being acknowledged for their loyalty, whilst those who defected from other parties were given preference for ministerial berths. Sources said that if MTB Nagaraj, R Shankar and Munirathna Naidu are given ministerial positions, and other leaders are excluded, it could lead to further feuds within the party.