Ministerial Aspirants Raise Pitch For Berth In New Karnataka Cabinet
As Basavarj Bommai took charge as the Chief Minister of Karnataka on Wednesday, Ministerial aspirants have begun lobbying to secure a berth in the new cabinet.Expanding the Ministry will be the first big challenge before the new Chief Minister as he will have to navigate through the cabinet formation exercise by maintaining balance between factions within the ruling BJP in the state.There are several aspirants among the party old guard, and legislators who had joined the BJP after quitting the Congress-JD(S) coalition in 2019.Mr Bommai, who alone took oath on Wednesday, succeeding BS Yediyurappa, said he will try to expand the Cabinet soon."I had met central observers Dharmendra Pradhan, Kishan Reddy and general secretary (Arun) Singh (in the morning), they said let's not discuss it today, once they go back to Delhi let's see," he said in response to a question by reporters on expanding the cabinet.Asked whether he will wait for ''Ashada'' month (considered inauspicious) to get over for undertaking the expansion, he said, "nothing like that, we will do it at the earliest, won't take too much time because I need a complete team to do the work as there is COVID and floods."When questioned whether he will continue with the same Ministers, Bommai said all these are part of the cabinet formation exercise and "everything will be decided together". The Chief Minister said he was waiting for the Prime Minister's appointment for Delhi visit.He also clarified that his first visit to Delhi is for meeting PM Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah,Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP national president JP Nadda to thank them, and thereafter he will discuss with leaders on the cabinet expansion.Meanwhile, state BJP President Nalin Kumar Kateel said the Chief Minister after discussing with the central leaders will choose members to his cabinet.Asked about "confusion" among legislators, who had joined BJP after quitting Congress-JD(S) coalition in 2019, and were Ministers in the previous Yediyurappa cabinet, about their future, he said, "..they are party workers and who should be in the council of ministers is left to the Chief Minister's discretion."About several long-time party loyals too having expectations to become Ministers, Kateel said the cabinet will be expanded keeping in mind social and geographical balance, and also party interest.BJP national general secretary CT Ravi said there should be no "insider-outsider difference" in the BJP, and the only criteria is good work.Some legislators, who are said to be Ministerial aspirants, had reportedly met Yediyurappa on Wednesday.Meanwhile, former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, who was Minister in the Yediyurappa cabinet, said he has decided not to be part of the new cabinet, considering that he is senior to CM Bommai."As I am a former Chief Minister and have seniority, I have decided not to be a part of the new cabinet.I was Minister in the Yediyurappa cabinet despite being a former Chief Minister as he (Yediyurappa) is senior to me and I had worked in his government in the past too, but now keepingvseniority and morality in view I am not ready to be part of the new cabinet," he told new channels.Shettar said he has communicated his decision to state party president, Chief Minister, and Yediyurappa and party leadership. There are youngsters in the party and as a senior leader he will continue to support the government in all possible ways, and work for the party, Shettar added.Another senior leader and former Minister KS Eshwarappa said some seers had visited him, and wanted him to become Deputy Chief Minister."I told them that the party will decide and sought their blessing."Former Minister and senior leader R Ashoka said he had held several positions in the past and will abide by the party decision.There are reports that he may become Deputy Chief Minister.While MLCs R Shankar and MTB Nagaraj, who are among those who had defected to BJP, expressed aspiration to becomeMinisters once again, reminding the leaders about their contribution to BJP in the saffron party coming to power, Mr Yediyurappa loyalist and MLA M P Renukacharya said, if given an opportunity, he will work as Minister.Stating that he is "120 per cent" confident about becoming Minister, senior MLA Umesh Katti, in response to a question on talks that priority will be given to "fresh faces", said "I'm also a fresh face."Mr Yediyurappa's bete noire Basangouda Patil Yatnal, who has openly said that he doesn''t want to become Minister under the Lingayat strongman, said if the central high command directs him, he will agree to become Minister in the new Cabinet.