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Hectic lobbying in Karnataka BJP for Cabinet posts

Bengaluru, Feb 3 (IANS) Lobbying has intensified in the ruling BJP for ministerial berths ahead of the second Cabinet expansion on Thursday in Karnataka, a party official said on Monday.

“Hectic lobbying is on for a Cabinet berth among the party legislators, including seniors, as the rebel-turned newly-elected MLAs are set to get 10 of the 13 posts, while many aspirants are vying for the remaining three slots,” BJP’s state unit spokesman G. Madhusudhana told IANS here.

After the party’s high command cleared the names of the lawmakers for the much-awaited second Cabinet expansion, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on Sunday announced that 13 lawmakers would take oath as ministers on February 6.

He, however, did not share names of the legislators to be sworn-in by Governor Vajubhai Vala at Raj Bhavan.

“Of the 12 newly-elected MLAs in the December 5 by-elections in 15 Assembly segments across the state, 10 will be made ministers and one (Mahesh Kumathalli) posted as the state’s representative in New Delhi with a Cabinet rank,” hinted Madhusudhana.

The eight ex-Congress and two ex-Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) rebels-turned-BJP legislators set to take oath are Ramesh Jarkiholi, S.T. Somashekar, Byrathi Basavaraj, K. Sudhakar, Shivaram Hebbar, Shrimanth Patil, B.C. Patil, Anand Singh (all ex-Congress), K. Gopalaiah and K.C. Naryana Gowda (ex-JD-S).

“Eight-time MLA Umesh Katti, Arvind Limbavali, Halappa Achar, S. Angara and MLC C.P. Yogeshwar are in the race for the remaining posts,” said Madhusudhana.

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 2018 Assembly poll results, the ruling BJP has 117, the opposition Congress 68 and JD-S has 34.

The Congress and an independent won the remaining three seats in the bypolls for which results were out on December 9.

“As the 34-member ministry already has 18 ministers, including the Chief Minister, three vacancies will remain after the induction of 13 legislators. As all MLAs cannot be made ministers due to Constitutional limitations, some of the remaining will be made heads (chairmen) of boards and corporations later,” said the official.

Though former Congress rebels A.H. Vishwanath and M.T.B. Nagaraj who lost in the by-elections are not in the list, reminded Yediyurappa of his promise to make them ministers.

“It is incorrect to say the Supreme Court has restrained us from becoming ministers in the event of losing in the by-elections, as we were allowed to re-contest after resigning from the Assembly and despite the previous Speaker (K.R. Ramesh Kumar) disqualifying us for defying the party whip in July,” Vishwanath said.

Resignations by 14 Congress and three JD-S rebels not only led to the fall of the previous 14-month JD-S-Congress coalition government on July 23, but also led to the BJP returning to power again in the southern state on July 26, 2019.

In the first Cabinet expansion on August 21, 17 legislators were made ministers, with three of them appointed Deputy Chief Ministers.

–IANS

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