BJP national general secretary (Organisation) B L Santosh on Monday met Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa and reportedly discussed the long-awaited ministry expansion or reshuffle exercise. Santosh met the Chief Minister at his official residence and the meeting lasted for about 15-20 minutes, official sources said.
The meeting assumes significance as Yediyurappa on Friday had said that he was expecting communication from BJP national president JP Nadda on the cabinet exercise in two days and that arrangements would be made in three-four days for the swearing-in of new ministers. BJP state president Nalin Kumar Kateel too, met the Chief Minister and held discussions.
Though it is not clear what actually transpired at these meetings, party sources said that it was most likely about the cabinet expansion. Earlier in the day, Water Resources Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi, along with BJP MLC, C P Yogeshwar met Santosh.
Jarkiholi reportedly lobbied for a ministerial berth to Yogeshwar and Congress-JD(S) rebels who joined BJP along with him (Jarkiholi) last year and helped the party come to power. Yogeshwar was said to be instrumental in managing rebel MLAs during their stay in Mumbai ahead of the collapse of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government last year.
Yediyurappa had met Nadda in New Delhi last week to discuss reshuffle of his cabinet, but was asked to wait for clearance from the central leadership to go ahead with the process.
Political activities have intensified within the ruling BJP camp after Yediyurappa on November 10, soon after the party's victory in bye-polls to two assembly constituencies, indicated that a cabinet reshuffle was on the cards. He had then hinted about a reshuffle by dropping or inducting some ministers, in consultation with the high command.
The cabinet expansion or reshuffle is expected to be a tightrope walk for Yediyurappa, considering that there are too many aspirants. While several of the old guard like Katti are waiting for a chance to be inducted into the ministry, Congress-JD(S) rebels like A H Vishwanath, R Shankar and M T B Nagaraj, who helped BJP come to power and are now party MLCs, are also aspiring for slots.
As per the agreement, Yediyurappa will have to keep space for Munirathna, following his win from Rajarajeshwari Nagar seat in the November 3 bye-poll and also for Pratap Gowda Patil, who needs to win the Maski bye-poll that is yet to be announced.
The cabinet currently has 27 members and seven berths are still vacant. There has also been intense speculation in some quarters that the BJP high command is mulling leadership change in Karnataka in the coming days, considering Yediyurappa's age (77 years), though the party's state unit had earlier rejected such reports.