Amid speculation over the expansion of the State Cabinet before the legislature session starting in Belagavi on December 10, chairman of the coordination committee of the Janata Dal (Secular)–Congress coalition government Siddaramaiah on Sunday said a decision on the issue would be taken on Wednesday when the committee meets.
“We are thinking of expanding the Cabinet before the legislature session. But a decision will be taken as to when it has to be done. Nobody has set a deadline [for expansion]. The deadline is a media creation,” Siddaramaiah told reporters here. “The decision has to be taken at the coordination committee and ultimately the Chief Minister will recommend [names] to the Governor,” he said.
Siddaramaiah termed as media’s creation the reports claiming that a few disgruntled Congress leaders held a meeting at a private hotel in Bengaluru and decided to complain against him to the party central leadership.
“MLA B C Patil has been expressing his desire to be included in the Cabinet. No one has any kind of grudge against me,” he said, and added that no Congress MLA or leader has complained against him to the party high command.
Responding to BJP leaders’ claim that the government will fall soon after the Cabinet expansion, he said the government was strong and stable, and that it would complete full term of five years. “BJP leaders B S Yeddyurappa and K S Eshwarappa are dreaming of becoming Chief Ministers. Without having majority in the Assembly, how is the BJP dreaming of forming the government?”
The expansion exercise has been a talking point among those who missed getting ministerial berth when the Cabinet was formed in June. The purported expansion has been put off at least thrice already citing Ashada month, which is considered inauspicious, urban local body elections, and byelections to the Assembly and the Lok Sabha.
While the December 5 meeting is being keenly awaited by many ministerial aspirants, sources in the government said that the Cabinet expansion was unlikely just ahead of the legislature session.
“The problem is with the Congress and not with the JD(S). Irrespective of the coordination committee meeting, it is ultimately the Congress that has to take a call on the expansion. In case Congress leaders decide to expand the Cabinet, the JD(S) might also fill one vacancy in its quota,” sources said.
“However, it is highly unlikely that the expansion will take place any time soon,” a senior JD(S) Minister said. Incidentally, the Congress has six vacant Cabinet berths in its quota while the JD(S) has two, including the one vacated by its pre-poll alliance partner BSP