Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa had said last week that a cabinet expansion would occur after the results of the RR Nagar and Sira bye-polls are announced. As the BJP won in both the constituencies, several BJP leaders, formerly with the Congress and JD(S), have begun lobbying for ministerial berths. BJP sources said that national leaders are considering reshuffling the cabinet too.
Chief Minister Yediyurappa had, during the poll campaign for RR Nagar, said that if the party’s candidate Munirathna Naidu won the polls, he would be made a minister. Yediyurappa had said that he would go to New Delhi after the results are announced and speak with the high command.
However, since August, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has been reluctant to agree to the reshuffle, fearing backlash and an increase in internal feuds. Sources with the BJP in New Delhi said that as a bargain for Minister CT Ravi’s recent resignation, the posts given to the three Deputy Chief Ministers must be reshuffled too.
“Yediyurappa is not okay with a reshuffle. Many leaders will rebel against the government. Especially, when there is speculation that the CM will be changed next year,” a senior BJP leader said, while adding that the expansion is likely to occur by November 15.
The Karnataka cabinet has 33 posts with six vacant posts. In addition, after Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa accepts CT Ravi’s resignation, one more berth will be vacant. CT Ravi was given the Tourism and Kannada and Culture portfolio.
BJP sources said that Yediyurappa was waiting for the bye-elections to conclude, in order to take up the issue of cabinet expansion as the fate of one of the 14 Congress turncoats — Munirathna, was to be decided. Yediyurappa had promised ministerial berths to the Congress and JD(S) legislators who resigned and helped bring down the coalition government in 2019.
On Sunday, Members of Legislative Council AH Vishwanath and R Shankar alias Pendulum Shankar, went to New Delhi to lobby for a ministerial berth. MLCs MTB Nagaraj and CP Yogeeshwar are also hoping for a ministerial berth. If Munirathna Naidu wins the RR Nagar polls, he too is expecting a ministerial berth.
BJP sources said that the national leaders have offered Yediyurappa two options — to reshuffle the cabinet, including the deputy CMs or to reallocate portfolios to existing ministers and also include new ministers. Party sources said that Bijapur City MLA Basangouda Patil Yatnal is also a major contender for a ministerial portfolio and is also vying for the post of the deputy CM. BS Yediyurappa’s long-time friend and Hukkeri MLA Umesh Katti is also expecting to be accommodated as promised by the CM in February this year.
Sources said that Minister for Social Welfare B Sriramulu is also hoping to be made a deputy CM if the high command decides to remove the existing people and offer the post to other aspirants.
The bye-elections in Maski and Basavakalyan are yet to be held and the dates are expected to be announced soon. Pratapgouda Patil, the BJP’s likely candidate for the bye-elections is also hoping to be accommodated if he wins the poll as he too had defected from the Congress to BJP when the coalition government fell in 2019.