Wary of revolt, BJP to induct only 10 ministers in expansion

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Wary of revolt, BJP to induct only 10 ministers in expansion

Bengaluru:  Wary of revolt by disgruntled legislators, Karnataka’s ruling BJP has decided to induct only 10 newly-elected MLAs in the second cabinet expansion on Thursday, a party official said on Wednesday.

“Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa has sent names of only 10 newly elected legislators to Raj Bhavan for the swearing-in ceremony on Thursday instead of 13 planned earlier,” party’s spokesman G. Madhusudhana told IANS.

Governor Vajubhai Vala will administer the oath of office to the 10 MLAs in the glass house of Raj Bhavan on Thursday at 10.30 a.m. in the presence of Yediyurappa, cabinet ministers, officials and party’s state leaders.

As the BJP high command is pre-occupied with the February 8 Delhi Assembly elections, induction of three more MLAs had to be deferred amid fears of revolt by dissidents, lobbying for cabinet berths in the 34-member ministry.

“The Chief Minister will meet the high command after the Delhi Assembly election results (February 11) for seeking its approval to fill the remaining 6 cabinet berths after the induction of 10 MLAs on Thursday,” Madhusudhana said.

Though names of the MLAs to take oath have not been made official, party sources said Ramesh Jarkiholi, S.T. Somashekar, Byrathi Basavaraj, K. Sudhakar, Shivaram Hebbar, Shrimanth Patil, B.C. Patil, and Anand Singh (all ex-Congress) and K. Gopalaiah and K.C. Naryana Gowda (ex-JD-S) would be sworn-in as cabinet ministers.

In the first cabinet expansion on August 20, 2019, 17 legislators were inducted into the ministry with three as Deputy Chief Ministers. The second expansion on Thursday will take their total to 28, including the Chief Minister. Six vacancies remain to be filled in the third expansion.

The newly elected 10 MLAs taking oath on Thursday were part of the 14 Congress and 3 Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) rebels whose resignations from the Assembly in July led to the fall of the 14-month-old JD-S-Congress coalition government on July 23 and the return of the BJP to power again in the southern state on July 26.

In the December 5 by-elections in 15 assembly segments, the BJP won 12, the opposition Congress two and one by an Independent. The JD-S drew blank.

“Mahesh Kumathahalli, who quit the Congress and won in the by-election on a BJP ticket, is likely to be posted as the state’s representative in New Delhi with a cabinet rank,” added Madhusudhana.

Eight-time MLA Umesh Katti, Arvind Limbavali, Halappa Achar, S. Angara and C.P. Yogeshwar were in the race for the three cabinet posts before the high command withheld their names on Wednesday evening.

In the 225-member House, including one nominated and two vacant, with by-elections in their Assembly segments pending a high court verdict on their May 2018 Assembly poll results, the ruling BJP has 117, the opposition Congress 68 and JD-S 34.

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