Putting speculation to rest, Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on Friday said he would expand the cabinet after the twin Assembly by-elections on November 3 in the southern state.
"Cabinet expansion will take place after Assembly by-elections in Bengaluru's RR Nagar (Rajarajeshwarinagar) segment in Bengaluru and Sira segment in Tumakuru district on November 3 and their results on November 10," Yediyurappa told reporters here.
The Chief Minister plans to visit New Delhi after November 10 to discuss the cabinet expansion-cum-reshuffle with the ruling BJP's high command, including the party's national president J.P. Nadda.
"I will finalise the list of legislators to be made ministers in consultation with the party high command, Nadda and other central leaders, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah," said Yediyurappa.
Though the 34-member ministry has 6 vacancies to be filled in the third cabinet expansion of the 15-month-old government, a dozen lawmakers are vying for the coveted posts.
Although the party's newly appointed national general secretary C.T. Ravi resigned as the state tourism minister under the 'one-man, one-post norm' on October 4, the Chief Minister is yet to relieve him of the post.
"If Ravi's resignation is accepted, Yediyurappa will have one more cabinet post to fill in addition to 6 vacant and reshuffle portfolios of the 27 Ministers, including 3 Deputy Chief Ministers," a party official told IANS here.
On October 12 the Chief Minister entrusted Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar with the Health ministry to fight the raging Covid pandemic, shifting B. Sriramulu to the Social Welfare department, which was with Deputy Chief Minister Govid Karjol. Yedyiurappa also divested Sriramulu of the Backward Classes department and kept it with him, ostensibly for the ensuing cabinet expansion.
The cabinet was last expanded on February 6
The cabinet was last expanded on February 6 when 10 legislators, who defected from the Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), were inducted after they won in the December 5 by-elections, caused by their resignations in July, 2019, which led to the fall of the 14-month JDS-Congress coalition government on July 23, 2019 and the return of the BJP government on July 26, 2019.
The by-election in RR Nagar constituency has also been caused by the resignation of Munirathna from the seat in July 2019, who is re-contesting as a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate. The by-election in Sira is due to the death of its JD-S member B. Satyanarayana on August 4.
Munirathna, if elected, will be one of the aspirants for the cabinet posts along with Congress defectors M.T.B. Nagaraj and R. Shankar who were elected to the state legislative Council in the June 22 biennial polls.
Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) defector A.H. Vishwanath who was nominated to the Council on July 22, is also in the race for a cabinet post along with 8-time BJP legislator Umesh Katti and C.P. Yogeshwar, who was also nominated to the Council.
As Nagaraj and Vishwanath lost in the December 5 by-elections from Hoskote in Bengaluru Rural district and Hunsur in Mysuru district, they were made members of the Council to reward them with a cabinet post, as the other defectors were on February 6 in the second cabinet expansion.
Shankar, who too defected from the Congress and joined the BJP in November, was not given a ticket to contest in the by-election from Ranebennur in Haveri district but was assured of being made a Council member for a cabinet post. Nagaraj and Shankar were cabinet ministers in the JDS-Congress coalition government.
Though the Supreme Court in November 2019 upheld the disqualification of the 17 defectors from the Congress and the JD-S by the former assembly speaker (K.R. Ramesh Kumar) under the anti-defection law, it allowed them to re-contest in the assembly by-elections.
The first cabinet expansion, in which 17 Ministers were inducted took place on August 20, 2019. Yediyurappa was sworn-in as BJP chief minister for the third time on July 26, 2019. The Chief Minister will campaign in RR Nagar and Sira on Saturday to drum up support for the party candidates - Munirathna and Raju Gowda.