BENGALURU:The BS Yediyurappa-led government is all set to get 13 more ministers after the Chief Minister's meeting on Friday with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP national president Jagat Prakash Nadda.
During the meeting, which lasted about 25 minutes, the BJP central leadership not only gave Yediyurappa a free hand to expand the cabinet "whenever he wants", but is also said to have approved his suggestion to induct 10 of the 11 newly- elected legislators.
They had defected from the Congress and JDS and won on BJP tickets in the bypolls. Sources privy to the discussion said that the swearing-in ceremony for 13 ministers is likely to be held on Monday. With their induction, the Karnataka cabinet’s strength will stand at 31. Sources added that Yediyurappa has decided not to drop any incumbent ministers and to keep three berths vacant in case dissent arises.
After camping in New Delhi for two days to discuss the cabinet expansion, Yediyurappa finally met Amit Shah on Friday. A meeting between the two leaders, which was scheduled for Thursday, was postponed owing to Shah’s busy campaign schedule for the Delhi assembly elections.
"Amit Shah, JP Nadda and I met for about 25 minutes and discussed the issue. They are in agreement with most of my suggestions. They said I can expand the cabinet whenever I want," Yediyurappa said.
‘New ministers could be sworn in on Monday’
"After I return to Bengaluru, I will talk to a few (stakeholders) and discuss the issue. I will convince them and expand the cabinet. The date of swearing-in is my prerogative," said a beaming Yediyurappa as he walked out after meeting Shah and Nadda.
While he chose to not answer pointed questions on how many of the newly-elected MLAs will be made ministers and when the swearing-in can be expected, sources indicated that the new ministers could be sworn in on Monday.
"The CM will now have to take a call on whether he wants 10 out of the 11 newly-elected MLAs and three old-timers or nine newly-elected MLAs and four old-timers. The plan is to induct 13 ministers," said another source. Yediyurappa has been pushing to induct at least 10 out of the 11 formerly disqualified MLAs owing to the assurance he had given to them before they joined the BJP.
Party insiders suggest that to avoid extremely heavy representation from Belagavi in the cabinet, either Mahesh Kumathalli or Shrimanth Patil could be left out from among the 11 legislators. For the three berths meant for party old-timers, Umesh Katti, Arvind Limbavali, Murugesh Nirani, Halappa Achar along with a host of BJP leaders are in line for consideration.
Yediyurappa is expected to hold discussions with senior party leaders, cabinet aspirants and candidates who are likely to lose out on ministerial berths on Saturday and Sunday to build confidence and ensure minimum damage and dissent.
His suggestion to drop a few incumbent ministers seems to be the only proposal that the high command has not responded to in the positive. The CM is said to have been given autonomy over how to go about the cabinet expansion along with portfolio allocation. But with that also comes the onus of facing any challenges that may come up as a fallout.