Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, who has fought hard to retain his position of power within the BJP, seems to be in a perpetual fix over the most-awaited cabinet expansion. The CM had set the deadline of January 15 to speak with the high command and announce the names of the new ministers, and yet he seems unable to form a decision without offending crucial figures in the BJP.
Soon after the results of the bye-elections in 15 constituencies were announced on December 9, Yediyurappa had said that all 11 Congress and JD(S) rebels who had won in the polls would be offered ministerial berths. With massive resistance in the BJP towards the 11 rebels gaining cabinet berths, Yediyurappa has a tough task ahead of him, especially with a reluctant high command.
BJP insiders say that the party’s national leaders have decided that only eight of the ministerial berths would be filled up during the upcoming cabinet expansion. Of the eight berths, only six are said to be reserved for the rebels, highly placed sources in the BJP said.
Yediyurappa’s cabinet currently has 17 ministers and 16 vacancies. “National leaders say that eight berths will be filled now while the remaining would be filled in the next round of expansion, may be a year later, and that all those berths are reserved for BJP leaders and not rebels,” the source said.
With Yediyurappa fighting tooth and nail to ensure that the 11 rebels get cabinet berths, BJP insiders claim that unfulfilled promised to the rebels may foment more trouble within the party. “If the rebels get ministerial berths, Yediyurappa’s faction in the party will remain strong as the rebels would align themselves with him. There are other leaders who support Nalin Kumar Kateel and they want leaders from coastal Karnataka and party loyalists to get berths,” the source added.
Yediyurappa was slated to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah and discuss the cabinet expansion on Sunday. However, Yediyurappa was not given an appointment to meet him. The Chief Minister is now expected to meet Amit Shah in Hubballi on the evening of January 17, upon the Home Minister’s arrival in the state to chalk out details of the expansion.
“Yediyurappa wants to have his way. Although he has proven himself loyal and able in handling elections, there are many whom the high command favours over him. It depends on whether he can convince Amit Shah to trust his judgment,” the source added.