The Cabinet currently has 27 ministers, and there are seven positions available for Yediyurappa to fill. There are at least two dozen serious aspirants claiming a berth on the basis of their seniority in the party, or as an MLA, or caste or region. Sources say the chief minister may keep one or two positions vacant to manage any political crisis just in case one were to erupt later.
The chief minister told the media in Bengaluru that the expansion will happen on January 13 or 14. “JP Nadda (BJP national president) will finalise the day. The party high command will decide if it is going to be an expansion or reshuffle. You will soon get to know who all will be joining the cabinet.”
Amid reports that the chief minister may opt for a minor reshuffle by dropping a couple of ministers either for non-performance or for strategic reasons, excise minister H Nagesh denied he was on the firing-line. He insisted that there was no question of Yediyurappa asking him to resign. “In fact, I am responsible for the formation of this government,” he said, in a bid to outmanoeuvre any such political moves by the BJP.
Yediyurappa has repeatedly made comments about his willingness to expand the cabinet over the last few months and even set a few deadlines, but they did not materialise due to Covid-19, bypolls and gram panchayat elections.
The chief minister has been waiting for some time now to expand the ministry especially to honor the promise he made to turncoat legislators who quit the Congress and the JD(S) and helped him to install the BJP government.
If Yediyurappa walks his talk, and to honour his words, MLCs — MTB Nagaraj and R Shankar, and Bengaluru MLA Munirathna are expected to make it. The chief minister emphatically declared a couple of weeks ago that no one could stop MLC CP Yogeshwar becoming a minister.
There is a long queue of aspirants including seniors such as Aravind Limbavali, Umesh Katti, GH Thippa Reddy and Murugesh Nirani.
The chief minister will find it tough to induct all those people he would want as he will have to manage caste and region balance.