Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Friday finally received the green signal from the BJP central leadership for expansion of the six-month-old cabinet in the state and he is likely to induct 13 ministers.
Yediyurappa said the date of swearing-in will be decided in a day or two, although he indicated it is expected be held on February 3.
There are 18 ministers, including the chief minister, in the cabinet that has a sanctioned strength of 34. Sixteen berths are vacant. And Yediyurappa had been anxiously waiting for the party high command's approval to expand his ministry amid intense lobbying by cabinet aspirants.
"We discussed yesterday and now also. (Amit) Shah has agreed to almost everything," Yediyurappa told reporters after meeting the Union home minister in New Delhi, and added he is returning back "happy" after getting the nod for the cabinet expansion.
"Many of our suggestions have been accepted by Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP national president J P Nadda. If there are minor differences, we will discuss in Bengaluru and sort it out."
Yediyurappa had been persistent on his demands with the central leadership, which, by agreeing to many of them, appeared to be trying to maintain the advantage gained in the southern state under the popular Veerashaiva-Lingayat leader.
Barring one or two, the chief minister said, most of the disqualified JDS-Congress MLAs who got re-elected in the bypolls on BJP tickets will be made ministers, and added there won't be additional deputy chief ministers.
Sources said Yediyurappa has been told to keep three berths vacant and fill the remaining 13. "Ten reelected MLAs and three from the party may be inducted into the Cabinet," a source said.
With the high-command reportedly not keen on making all the 11 re-elected legislators ministers, whom Yediyurappa has given assurance, it will not be an easy task for the chief minister, who has to ensure adequate representation to various castes and regions in his cabinet.
The cabinet already has eight Lingayats, including the chief minister, three Vokkaligas, three from Scheduled Castes, two OBCs, one from the Scheduled Tribe and a Brahmin.
The sources said Belagavi district MLA Mahesh Kumthahalli may not be made minister.
The other contenders from the party are Aravind Limbavali (Mahadevapura), C P Yogeshwar (Channapatna), Halappa Achar (Koppal), S A Ramadas (Mysore).
But only three of them are likely to be inducted into the cabinet.Opposition parties have been critical of the BJP and Yediyurappa over the delay in the cabinet expansion, alleging he was weak and that his administration had collapsed.