The cabinet expansion in Karnataka will take place only by August 9, as per the latest reports, even though it is about a week since Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa took the oath following the crumbling of the Congress-JD (S) government.
Though the possible date of cabinet expansion is revealed, the names of minister-designates or their portfolios still remain a closely guarded secret. There's intense jockeying within the BJP for ministerial berths. It has also been reported that the BJP leadership could hold back a few ministerial berths for the Congress and JD (S) rebels.
CM Yediyurappa and party in-charge Muralidhar Rao are expected make a list of ministers and their portfolios. This will be finalised by the BJP President and Home Affairs minister Amit Shah. With only 34 slots available in the cabinet, the decision seems to be quite tough for the CM as there are many aspirants among the saffron party and the rebel legislators from Congress and JD(S), who have been disqualified.
It's also clear that Yediyurappa may not get a free hand in cabinet formation. The party high command had disapproved his choice KG Bopaiah for the post of the Speaker and appointed Vishveshwar Hegde Kageri. While Bopaiah has earlier experience as Speaker, the central leadership chose Hegde, a six-time MLA from Sirsi with no prior experience.
The top BJP leaders of the state including Jagadish Shettar, R Ashoka, KS Eshwarappa, B Sriramulu, CT Ravi, Arvind Limbavali, Kumar Bangarappa, V Somanna, Tejaswini Gowda, Madhu Swamy JC, Umesh Katti and Renukacharya are all in for the cabinet race.
Yediyurappa is likely to meet the party president Amit Shah on August 7 and discuss the cabinet expansion. The BJP top leadership is playing a safe game this time after Yediyurappa's failure as the CM during his past tenures, including the time when he landed in jail on charges of corruption.