Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Thursday said that the government hopes to expand the cabinet before the monsoon session of the Assembly begins on September 21. Speaking to the media in Kalaburagi before his trip to New Delhi, Yediyurappa said, “We want to expand the cabinet before the Assembly session begins and I will speak to the national leaders about it today in Delhi.”
BJP sources say that there are two options Yediyurappa is looking at. The first is to drop six ministers from the cabinet and replace them with six other aspirants and also fill up three vacant ministerial berths. The second, is to fill only three vacant berths.
Sources said that dropping six ministers would create unrest within the state unit of the BJP and considering the rising number of COVID-19 cases, the high command is reluctant to allow an opportunity that would cause rebellion.
Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, had in 2019 said that when the cabinet expansion happens, Hukkeri legislator Umesh Katti would “definitely” be given a ministerial berth. This leaves two berths, for which there are multiple contenders. Among the contenders are Member of Legislative Council (MLC) MTB Nagaraj, MLC R Shankar alias Pendulum Shankar, MLC AH Vishwanath and MLAs Renukacharya and Aravind Limbavali, who are close to Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa. There are three other aspirants: Mysuru MLA SA Ramdas, Mangaluru North MLA Bharath Shetty and Mangaluru South MLA Vedavyas Kamath.
Sources indicated that R Shankar is likely to be accommodated as he had to give up his position as an independent MLA and joined the party, in addition to giving up the Ranebennur seat during the bye-elections. However, MTB Nagaraj, the former MLA from Hoskote, was instrumental in bringing several rebels with him, while defecting in 2018 to bring down the Congress-JD(S) coalition government.
“It should either be two people close to Yediyurappa who get berths and one person recommended by Nalin Kumar Kateel or the other way around. The high command will decide,” the source added.