Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa is expected to visit Delhi next month, before the assembly session begins 21 September, to discuss cabinet expansion, among other issues, ThePrint has learnt.
Some of the rebel Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) MLAs who helped him return to office last year are yet to be accommodated in the state cabinet, and the chief minister is said to be struggling to juggle his “gratitude” to them with the ambitions of other BJP leaders.
“With four cabinet berths vacant, Yediyurappa needs to carefully choose who will be inducted and which ministries will be re-shuffled,” said a senior minister in the government who did not want to be named.
Several of Yediyurappa’s ministers have been travelling to the national capital in recent days, apparently to seek the BJP central leadership’s urgent attention on matters regarding the expansion, including ensuring new ministers are not inducted at their cost.
State Water Resources Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi has already made two visits to Delhi. His first visit on 3 August came close on the heels of Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi’s Delhi trip.
Sources in the party said Savadi had met senior BJP leaders to present his case as he feared he may lose his position. Insiders claimed Jarkiholi lobbied that Savadi be removed and three other turncoats, H. Vishwanath, M.T.B. Nagaraj and R. Shankar be inducted into the cabinet.
BJP leader C.P. Yogeshwar, now nominated to the state legislative council or upper house, and ministers C.T. Ravi and Kota Sreenivas Poojary have also made visits to Delhi over the past couple of months, sources said, to push for their own candidature, retain their ministries or extend support to their nominees.
“We will wait for the final decision by the high command,” a close associate of former Hoskote MLA Nagraj said.
When ThePrint asked Ravi about his discussions with the central BJP leaders, he said he only raised “matters on various development projects for my constituency and ministry”. “Nothing on cabinet expansion (was discussed),” he added.
The Yediyurappa cabinet in Karnataka currently has 27 members, and the CM is looking to fill four posts immediately, with two to be left for later. The 27 members include 10 rebels.
He came to power after bringing down the Congress-JD(S) coalition by luring 17 Congress-JD(S) MLAs to support him. While the BJP was the single largest party, it had 104 seats — short of a majority in the 224-seat Karnataka assembly.
He succeeded in getting 16 of 17 rebel Congress and JD(S) leaders to the BJP. After several twists and turns over the fate of the rebel MLAs, the BJP got 11 of them to win bypolls held in December.
Pressure has been mounting on Yediyurappa to induct the rest of the rebel legislators into the cabinet. His first cabinet expansion also proved an arduous exercise as the central BJP kept him waiting for a long time before granting him an appointment to discuss the issue.
Other subjects on agenda
Other subjects on Yediyurappa’s agenda include seeking funds for flood relief and a ban on the Kerala-based Islamic fundamentalist organisation Popular Front of India (PFI), whose political front Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) allegedly played a role in the 11 August Bengaluru riots.
The Karnataka home department has sought a ban on the PFI, and police in the state have been asked to submit a detailed report on the group.
Sources in the CMO said Yediyurappa “hopes to hold detailed discussions on the riots with the central government. “The police report on the riots will also be presented to the Union government,” said a minister.