The much-deferred cabinet expansion in Karnataka is slated to take place on Tuesday with Raj Bhawan confirming that chief minister BS Yediyurappa has sought time for the swearing-in between 10:30 and 11:30 am tomorrow.
For the last 23 days, since BSY was sworn in as the chief minister of Karnataka on July 26th, he has been functioning alone as a one-man army, attracting brickbats from opposition parties in Karnataka.
Sources in BJP have indicated that multiple challenges have compounded the precarious situation for the Karnataka CM which have caused the delay. BSY had attempted to meet the BJP high command in the first week of August but as Amit Shah, who is also the Union Home Minister, was busy with the Kashmir issue in parliament, BSY had to return without an assent.
CM Yediyurappa, who also is the BJP state president currently, had given a list of names of legislators for the final nod to Amit Shah, PM Modi and BJP national working president JP Nadda on August 16. This after consultation with BL Santosh, BJP national general secretary, who is known to be close to the state RSS unit.
Sources have confirmed a cabinet of 15 ministers will be sworn in tomorrow at the Raj Bhawan. After much circumspection, one of the independents, H Nagesh and 14 BJP MLAs will be given cabinet berths.
At least eight berths are being kept vacant for the 17 disqualified legislators who resigned in July from Congress and JDS. Pending their appeal against the former speaker Ramesh Kumar’s verdict disqualifying them from being members of Karnataka Assembly till the expiry of the current term, the BJP is awaiting their induction into the party fold and then consequently some of them, into the cabinet.
Republic has also learnt that to avoid disconcerting former deputy chief ministers like R Ashoka, KS Eshwarappa and B Sriramulu, this cabinet will have no post of Dy CM.
Party insiders say that the list of names given to the BJP high command by BSY had the delicate balance of castes, seniority and regional representation but the final list will be sent to the BJP state unit on late Monday night, once it has the consent of PM Modi and HM Shah.
While there will be ample representation for the dominant castes in Karnataka, Vokkaligas and Lingayats, Amit Shah is said to have given precedence to criteria like loyalty and future succession.
Some names that have found mention in BSY’s list include R Ashoka, Umesh Katti, Basavaraj Bommai, KS Eshwarappa, Madhuswamy, B Sriramulu, Govind Karjol and Balachandra Jarkiholi among others. Former chief minister Jagadish Shettar is said to have been considered for the post of BJP state president along with names like Suresh Kumar and CT Ravi. BJP has a norm of not allowing a leader to hold two positions, one in the party and one in government, thus BS Yediyurappa is expected to vacate his position as state unit president.
Amidst severe criticism from the opposition for running a one-man cabinet and accusations of the lack of a cabinet impacting the relief work in Karnataka floods, the much-awaited expansion will bring some relief to the CM who is being mocked for conducting four cabinet meetings so far without actually having a cabinet.
But this will be just the beginning of a long road for BSY who will have to continue firefighting the sparring between various factions and disappointed leaders in the days to come, not to mention the uphill task of possibly accommodating the currently disqualified MLAs who were instrumental in toppling the JDS-Congress government.