Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa's cabinet was finally expanded on Thursday morning, with the addition of 10 new members. All 10 are former Congress and Janata Dal Secular MLAs who withdrew their support to the coalition government last July, causing its collapse. They then crossed over to the BJP and contested by-elections on BJP tickets - and most of them won. It has been a much delayed task for Mr Yediyurappa to meet national party leaders and come up with the final list of who would be included - and who would be left out. The chief minister had earlier acknowledged that the BJP was in power in the state because of these MLAs.
One of the new ministers, Shrimath Patil, told NDTV, "I am very happy, Yediyurappa has kept his word and given us cabinet berths. We will work well for the state and the people... Portfolios - haven't asked for anything in particular, but since I am from a rural area, something related to that would be good."
It wasn't an easy process for the chief minister, who made several trips to Delhi to try and meet his leaders and work things out. It was all about the numbers - and the challenge that there are always more aspirants for a cabinet berth than there are posts available. Karnataka can have a maximum of 34 ministers based on the strength of the Assembly. 16 former coalition MLAs joined the BJP. 13 were given BJP tickets to contest bypolls in the seats left vacant by their resignations. 11 of them won. Of the winners, only Mahesh Kumathalli was left out of the expansion.
The chief minister said, "It will be difficult to take in Mahesh Kumathalli, but we will give him some important responsibility." Mahesh Kumathalli himself has said he would not embarrass the BJP but that he did have questions over his omission.
And what about those who have been with the BJP longer but still haven't got a cabinet berth? The party would need to keep resentment in check. Shrimanth Patil dismissed any resentment. He said, "There is no such thing. We are all BJP people. It is not a question of old or new..."
The chief minister will once again head to Delhi to consult with his national leaders about portfolio allotment - and also names for the remaining vacant slots in the cabinet.