On eve of expansion, Karnataka ministers lobby for change in portfolios

‘Ashok, Basavaraj Bommai, Jagadish Shettar, and B.C. Patil are seeking change’

Several senior Ministers in the Cabinet, unhappy with the portfolios allotted to them, have reportedly pushed for a reshuffle of portfolios even as the Cabinet is set to be expanded on Wednesday, sources in the BJP said.

With all vacancies in the Cabinet being filled on Wednesday, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa is expected to allocate most of the ministries that he presently holds and reallocate portfolios that a few Ministers hold as additional charge.

Party sources said that at least four senior Ministers, meanwhile, have asked for a change in their portfolios too. Revenue Minister R. Ashok, Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai, Industries Minister Jagadish Shettar, and Agriculture Minister B.C. Patil are keen on a change in their portfolios, the sources said. While these Ministers have also indicated their preference, the Chief Minister is yet to take a call, his close aides said.

‘Impossible to allot’

“Any change in their portfolios will lead to change in others too, which needs to be carefully considered so as to not create discontent in the Cabinet. Some of the portfolios some Ministers have sought are almost impossible to be allotted to them without causing heartburn to others,” a strategist close to the Chief Minister said. However, he also added that the Chief Minister was unhappy with the performance of a few Ministers in the Cabinet and was thinking of a reshuffle, but whether it would involve senior Ministers is the moot question.

Mr. Yediyurappa is likely to allocate Energy, Small Scale Industries, Kannada and Culture, Youth Empowerment and Sports, and Backward Classes Welfare portfolios.

He is expected to retain Finance, Planning, Information and Public Relations, and Bengaluru Development portfolios, sources said. Minor Irrigation, Medical Education, Sugar and Sericulture departments, presently held as additional charge by Ministers will likely be redistributed. With H. Nagesh most likely to be dropped, Excise Department will also likely be allotted to one of the new inductees.

Case of Jolle

Women and Child Welfare Minister Shashikala Jolle, who was reportedly initially on the list of Ministers to be dropped from the Cabinet, lobbied hard with the party high command and is likely to escape the axe, sources in the party said.

Ms. Jolle, speaking to media persons in Raichur, said this was not the first time rumours had spread that she would be dropped. “I will abide by the party’s decision,” she said.

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