Karnataka cabinet expansion on February 6, says CM Yediyurappa.

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Almost two months after they won the December 5 bypolls, 10 formerly disqualified MLAs who joined the BJP, are set to become ministers in the BS Yediyurappa cabinet along with three party old-timers. They will be inducted at 10.30 am on February 6.

Ramesh Jarkiholi, Shrimanth Patil, BC Patil, Shivaram Hebbar, Dr K Sudhakar, S T Somashekhar, Narayana Gowda, Gopalaiah, Byrathi Basavaraj and Anand Singh are set to take oath on Thursday. Umesh Katti, Arvind Limbavalli, Sunil Kumar, C P Yogeshwar, Halappa Achar are competing for the other three berths for party old-timers.

Athani MLA Mahesh Kumathalli, who may miss out on a cabinet berth, is being considered for the State’s representative in New Delhi.

The CM on Sunday announced that 13 MLAs, including the 10 new entrants, will take oath of office as ministers at Raj Bhavan on Thursday. Two days after he returned from New Delhi after discussing the cabinet expansion with the BJP central leadership, including party national president JP Nadda and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Yediyurappa finally announced the date for the expansion and its specifics.

“The cabinet expansion will take place on February 6 with the oath-taking ceremony at the Raj Bhavan at 10.30 am. Thirteen MLAs, including 10 who had joined BJP from other parties like the Congress and JD(S), will take oath,” Yediyurappa said laying to rest many questions around the expansion.

While the date for the expansion has been set, the headache has only begun for the Chief Minister. Yediyurappa spent most of his Sunday speaking with disgruntled aspirants whose hopes of being inducted into the cabinet have been dented, given that 10 berths have been reserved for the new entrants.

Apart from those missing out on cabinet berths, Yediyurappa is also said to have spoken to Ramesh Jarkiholi who is miffed over the possibility of his aide Mahesh Kumathalli being left out. The CM is said to have informed Ramesh that two MLAs from neighbouring constituencies cannot be accommodated right away but Jarkiholi is said to be adamant on inducting Kumathalli, leaving out Shrimanth Patil, if necessary. Jarkiholi is also said to be haggling for a plump ministry for “bringing all the rebel MLAs from Congress and JDS on board”.

In the next two days, the CM will zero in on the portfolios to be distributed to the new ministers. Sources close to the CM claim that he is not too keen on reshuffling ministries and is in the process of convincing the newbie ministers-to-be to accept currently vacant portfolios.

Incumbent ministers who have been given additional charge of ministries will hand over the portfolios to the new ministers once they take oath. With this, the Yediyurappa Cabinet will have 31 ministers and three berths have been strategically kept vacant to quell any rebellion. After June, a cabinet reshuffle is expected and three more ministers are likely to be inducted then to take the cabinet to full strength.

After Thursday’s expansion, the cabinet will have the most representation from Bengaluru and Belagavi districts. Currently, the cabinet has eight Lingayats including Yediyurappa himself and Deputy CM Laxman Savadi, three Vokkaligas including Deputy CM Dr Ashwath Narayana, three from Scheduled Castes of which one is Deputy CM Govind Karjol, two OBCs, and one each from the Brahmin and Scheduled Tribe communities.

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Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu.