K’taka BJP postpones cabinet expansion over cross voting fear

The BJP has postponed the much awaited cabinet expansion in Karnataka. Sources in the party have said that the decision has been taken in view of elections to the Legislative Council and the Rajya Sabha.

The party leaders, fearing cross voting by the disgruntled members, have decided not to give any room for it at all.

Besides, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai is taking up the tour of Europe to attend the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland scheduled from May 22 to 26.

The government will have to take a call on local body elections for Taluk and Zilla Panchayats across the state as well as BBMP elections in Bengaluru. The elections to 9 seats of Council and 4 Rajya Sabha seats have already been declared. The top brass does not want to take any chances and is not in favour of opening Pandora’s Box by cabinet expansion.

CM Bommai recently maintained that the party high command will take a final call on cabinet expansion. He also said that the decision to allot ticket to B.Y. Vijayendra, son of former CM B.S. Yediyurappa whether to contest MLC polls in the state, lies with the top leadership.

The core committee had recommended Vijayendra’s name for the MLC. Sources in the party say that the stage is all set for ministerial berth for Vijayendra.

However, the top leaders are yet to take a final call on the issue as some party leaders are apprehensive about Vijayendra becoming a power centre in the government as Yediyurappa is going to throw his weight behind his son.

The party high command has got the survey of the performance and the popularity of ministers done through its sources. The party is contemplating to have a cabinet in place which can benefit the party in upcoming assembly elections, sources say.

Meanwhile, as the cabinet expansion is being delayed, the opposition Congress has issued statements that many BJP top leaders have approached them. The BJP high command is treading cautiously and taking its own time to make decisions.

The high command is thinking of dropping old non-performing ministers. The sitting ministers who are anxious about the development, have started lobbying through their godfathers in New Delhi.

There are 5 vacant cabinet berths presently and the party wants to induct 10 new faces. The party is also contemplating to change the Home Minister. Present Revenue Minister R. Ashok is said to be preferred for the job. Presently, staunch BJP and Hindutva man Araga Jnanendra is holding that portfolio.

BJP National General Secretary B.L. Santhosh’s recent statement that bringing change in leadership is the strength of BJP, had caused ripples in state political corridors. State Party President Nalin Kumar Kateel and former CM Yediyurappa have however clarified that there is no discussion on change of CM in the state.

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