Ministerial expansion has come to the forefront again with Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on Monday stating that he would visit Delhi in two or three days to meet the party central leaders.
Though Mr. Yediyurappa had gone to Delhi just before the commencement of the recently-concluded legislature session to consult over ministerial expansion, he could not secure an early nod from the high command.
According to sources in the party, the central leaders were unable to spend much time with Mr. Yediyurappa then. Also, there were not many instances of the ministry being expanded just before the legislature session.
Now, after the completion of the session, pressure from ministerial aspirants is said to be mounting again on the Chief Minister. A leader close to Mr. Yediyurappa was of the view that the expansion exercise may be completed in the next 10 to 14 days.
Presently, there are six vacant ministerial berths. However, it will touch seven as Kannada and Culture Minister C.T. Ravi is likely to quit the ministerial post in the wake of the party elevating him as national general secretary. Sources said it was question of time before he quits the ministry as his new role requires full time attention.
While clarity on expansion and its nature is expected to emerge only after the Delhi meeting, the present indication is that Mr. Yediyurappa may opt for filling five ministerial posts and retain the remaining two as a strategy to douse heartburns among disappointed aspirants.
The names of R. Shankar and N. Nagaraju (MTB), MLCs, who migrated from the Congress to help the BJP form its government, and C.P. Yogeshwar, MLC, who is said to have played a prominent role in wooing MLAs from the rival parties, are being heard as probables. Umesh Katti and Arvind Limbavali, senior MLAs, are also said to be strong probables. Though there is speculation about dropping some Ministers, sources in the party said it is unlikely.
Sources said that it will be a tight ropewalk for Mr. Yediyurappa as the expansion is turning out to be a double-edged sword. While party old-timers are upset over “newcomers” cornering a large number of berths, the proposed expansion would add to it as a few more newcomers are bound to be inducted.
‘But the Chief Minister cannot afford to delay expansion as pressure is building on him, sources noted.