The much awaited expansion of Karnataka cabinet is likely to get delayed, with Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Wednesday stating that it will be done after BJP national President Amit Shah's visit to the state on January 18.
As the Chief Minister is scheduled to travel to Davos to attend the World Economic Forum meet, the very next day- January 19, the Ministry expansion exercise is likely to take place only after his return.
"On January 19, I will have to go to Davos, where I will take part in an investors meet and come back on January 23," Yediyurappa said. Speaking to reporters in Shikaripura, he said, "Amit Shah is coming to state on January 18, after discussing with him at the earliest I will expand the cabinet."
Shah will be here to address a huge rally atHubballion January 18 aspart of the BJP's nationwide outreach programme to create awareness among the people about the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The Chief Minister, who is anxiously waiting for the BJP high command's nod to expand his ministry, amid intense lobbying by the aspirants, had recently expressed his wish to complete the exercise before Davos visit, if he gets clearance from Amit Shah.
Disqualified legislators who got re-elected during the December 5 bypolls on BJP ticket, and are all set to become Ministers too had exerted pressure on Yediyurappa to expand the cabinet before the foreign visit. According to party sources, though Yediyurappa had plans to visit New Delhi to get clearance from the high command, he did not get appointment from the party leadership for the same.
Yediyurappa along with Union ministers Piyush Goyal and Mansukh Mandaviya as well as chief ministers - Amarinder Singh (Punjab) and Kamal Nath (Madhya Pradesh) are among those expected join over 100 Indian CEOs in the Swiss ski resort town of Davos later this month for the WEF's 50th annual meeting.
As the Chief Minister has already made it clear that 11 of the disqualified JDS-Congress MLAs who got re-elected in the bypolls on BJP tickets will be made ministers, lobbying has been on within the party for the remaining ministerial berths. Currently there are 18 Ministers, including the Chief Minister in the cabinet that has a sanctioned strength of 34.
However, with some reports that the high command may not be keen on making all the 11 re-elected legislators, whom Yediyurappa has given assurance, as Ministers, it remains to be seen how things turn out.
Cabinet expansion will not be an easy task for the Chief Minister as he will have to strike a balance by accommodating the victorious disqualified legislators as promised and also make place for old guards, upset at being "neglected" in the first round of the induction exercise.
He also has to give adequate representation to various castes and regions in his cabinet and also deal with allocation of key portfolios. Also, disqualified legislators, who lost on BJP ticket during the bypoll, openly expressing their ministerial aspirations, has added to the Chief Minister's worry. Noting that he will be presenting the budget on March five, Yediyurappa said preparations are on for it.
"Naturally the budget will give importance to agriculture and the plan is to provide assistance to SC/ST and other backward communities. Budget will come to shape by the end of February. It will be presented on March 5.
After detailed discussion on the budget during the month, we will seek for its approval from the assembly," he said. This will the first budget of Yediyurappa government after coming to power in July last year, and the Chief Minister who holds the Finance portfolio will present the budget.