Days after indicating that he may not travel to Davos to attend the World Economic Forum later this month, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Monday said he would attend the global meet, and that the expansion of his ministry would take place before his foreign tour.
Reiterating that he would keep his promise of making disqualified legislators who won the December 5 bye-polls on BJP tickets as ministers, he said cabinet expansion would take place soon after his meeting with party president Amit Shah on the matter.
This comes amid repeated delays in his Delhi visit. Disqualified legislators like AH Vishwanath, who lost during the bye-polls, are also demanding a ministerial berth.
"There is no truth in speculations regarding the cabinet expansion. In fact Amit Shah had given me time for a meeting today in Delhi, but I had to attend important programmes here. Tomorrow, if possible, I will cancel all my programmes and go to Delhi and get cabinet (expansion) cleared. There is no problem in that," Yediyurappa said.
Speaking to reporters Bengaluru, he said the legislators who have won in the bye-polls need not worry about the speculations.
"I will fulfil the promise that I have made. If Amit Shah is available, I will try to go to Delhi tomorrow. If not he is coming here (Karnataka) on January 17 and 18, will get things cleared and expand the ministry," he said.
Yediyurappa had earlier said he would be leaving for New Delhi, probably on January 11 or 12, to discuss cabinet expansion with the BJP high command.
However on Saturday, he said he has decided to discuss it with Shah during the latter's visit to the state next week.
Shah will be here to address a massive rally at Hubballi on January 18 as part of BJP's nationwide outreach programme to create awareness on the Citizenship Amendment Act.
To a question about his visit to Davos, Yediyurappa said "everyone is persuading me to go, so I have decided to go. As I'm being sent by the central government, so I will have to go, and I will go and come." He is expected to leave for Davos on January 20.
Yediyurappa, along with Union ministers Piyush Goyal and Mansukh Mandaviya,as well as chief ministers - Amarinder Singh (Punjab), Kamal Nath (Madhya Pradesh) are among those expected join over 100 Indian CEOs in the Swiss ski resort town of Davos later this month for the WEF's 50th annual meeting.
According to reports, disqualified legislators who were re-elected during the December 5 bypolls on BJP tickets and are all set to become Ministers too had put pressure on Yediyurappa to expand the cabinet before the Davos visit.
As the Chief Minister has already made it clear that 11 of the disqualified JDS-Congress MLAs who got re-elected in the bye-polls on BJP tickets will be made ministers, lobbying has been on in the party for the remaining ministerial berths.
Currently there are 18 Ministers, including the Chief Minister in the cabinet, that has a sanctioned strength of 34.
Cabinet expansion will not be an easy task for the Chief Minister as he will have to strike a balance by accommodating the victorious disqualified legislators as promised and also make place for old guards, upset at being "neglected" in the first round of the induction exercise.
He also has to give adequate representation to various castes and regions in his cabinet and also deal with allocation of key portfolios.
Meanwhile, A H Vishwanath, a disqualified legislator, who lost on a BJP ticket from Hunsur, expressed his Ministerial ambitions, as he sought Ministerial posts to all 17 disqualified legislators, whose revolt led to collapse of the coalition government and paved way for BJP to come to power.
"....Asking (Minister's post) is our responsibility because 17 of us have cooperated for his (CM) government to come to power and demolition of unconstitutional coalition government. "We have asked that 17 of should be given opportunity," he told reporters in Raichur.
Another disqualified legislator who lost during the bye-polls on a BJP ticket, MTB Nagaraj from Hoskote, too has been lobbying for a Ministerial post.