As Karnataka Chief Minster BS Yediyurappa expands his 17-month old cabinet, seven ministers took oath today; at least three of them are the Chief Minister's loyalists.
Umesh Katti, Arvind Limbavali, MTB Nagaraj, Murugesh Nirani, R Shankar, CP Yogeshwar and S Angara are the seven ministers who were sworn in to the state cabinet. Governor Vajubhai Vala administered them the oath of office and secrecy at the Glass House of Raj Bhavan at around 4 PM.
With 27 members, seven posts were earlier vacant in the cabinet. However, Excise Minister H Nagesh was today dropped from the post.
"We have kept one post vacant, and (regarding) Nagesh...I will discuss with him and try to convince," the 77-year-old Chief Minister today said.
At least three of the seven new ministers - Umesh Katti, Arvind Limbavali and Murugesh Nirani - are seen as BS Yeddiyurappa loyalists.
MTB Nagaraj and CP Yogeshwar were earlier with the Congress and R Shankar was an independent who was made a minister in the Congress-JDS coalition government just before it fell last year.
Today's expansion - which comes days after Mr Yediyurappa's flying visit to New Delhi to meet Amit Shah- is the third since he took charge after the collapse of the Congress-JDS government and the rebellion of 17 MLAs.
The Chief Minister promised those who had jumped the ship cabinet berths as a reward.
When the disqualification of these MLAs was lifted, most of them stood as BJP candidates in the by-polls to their former seats - and most of them won. Many of the winners were accommodated in the cabinet - including the now high-profile health minister Dr L Sudhakar, a former Congressman. But some lost - like the extremely wealthy MTB Nagaraj and former JDS President H Vishwanath. They were later nominated as members of the legislative council (MLC) by the BJP.
The induction of Mr Shankar, Mr Nagaraj and Mr Yogeshwar will take the number of MLCs in the state cabinet to five, with Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi and Muzrai Minister Kota Srinivas Poojari already in the cabinet.
However, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president DK Shivakumar told NDTV that the BJP is dealing with "internal issues" even as the cabinet is being expanded. "There is a lot of internal issues going on within the BJP. We all know it. But as a Congressman I don't want to interfere with them. Let them come out with the list. Lot of things to discuss - we will share some information."