BELAGAVI: Clearing the air on the much speculated and delayed expansion of his cabinet, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa finally said on Wednesday that he would induct all the newly-elected MLAs into the cabinet, but may have to ignore one or two of them, if BJP leaders in Delhi insist on it. The cabinet expansion is due to take place in the next two or three days.
Intense lobbying for a deputy chief minister’s post by MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi and Health Minister B Sriramulu failed to yield results, with Yediyurappa declaring that his government would continue to have only three DyCMs, and that a fourth DyCM would not be named.
Ramesh Jarkiholi kept away from the chief minister’s programmes in Belagavi on Wednesday, upset over the BJP’s indecisiveness on taking a final call on having all the ‘rebel’ MLAs in the cabinet, besides naming him DyCM.
“Tomorrow, I am going to New Delhi to take a final call on cabinet expansion and the DyCMs, after meeting party leaders, including the national president and home minister. All the new MLAs, including three from Belagavi district, will be inducted into the cabinet. A decision on the candidate for the MLC seat will also be taken,’’ said Yediyurappa.
Under pressure from a section of leaders to include eight-time MLA Umesh Katti, Yediyurappa has decided to give him a berth.
However, it is still unclear who among the new MLAs will be deprived of cabinet berths if the BJP high command decides to keep some of them out.
The BJP leadership and Yediyurappa are also undecided on whether to include MTB Nagaraj and AH Vishwanath, the two MLAs who lost the recent bypolls.
Yediyurappa is firm on having all the newly-elected MLAs in his cabinet, but how he will react if the party high command insists on inducting some of the senior legislators and sidelining three to four new MLAs, will be known by this time tomorrow.
According to sources, the BJP may also take a call on allotting the plum Water Resources portfolio to Jarkiholi if he is not given the DyCM’s post.
Sources close to Jarkiholi said the Gokak strongman may not agree to having Kumathalli and Shrimant Patil out of cabinet, if the party denies him the DyCM post. Kumathalli and Patil, close associates of Jarkiholi, had defected to the BJP from the Congress only on his assurance that they would get cabinet berths.
A section of the BJP leadership is in favour of appointing them as heads of boards or corporations, much to Jarkiholi’s chagrin.
Yediyurappa is confident of expanding the cabinet within the next two or three days, but whether he will agree to the terms and conditions, which will undoubtedly be imposed on him by his Delhi bosses, will be interesting to watch, once he reaches Delhi on Thursday.
Party keen to retain Savadi
A section of senior party leaders, including Umesh Katti, have already opposed to having inexperienced MLAs as DyCMs.
However, in spite of Laxman Savadi’s failure to deliver as in-charge of 18 assembly segments of Kolhapur and Sangli districts in the recent Maharashtra election, the party has firmly rallied behind him.
According to sources, the BJP is keen to field him in the upcoming election to the only MLC seat, besides retaining him as DyCM.
If Yediyurappa is to be believed, Belagavi district will have six ministers, if all three new legislators get into the cabinet.