Karnataka Cabinet Expansion Would Take Time, Indicates Basavaraj Bommai As Lobbying Continues

Ministerial aspirants, meanwhile, have continued lobbying to secure a berth in the new cabinet.

Karnataka Cabinet Expansion Would Take Time, Indicates Basavaraj Bommai As Lobbying Continues

Basavaraj Bommai took oath as the Chief Minister on Wednesday. (File)

Bengaluru/Hubballi:

Indicating that expansion of his Cabinet may take some time, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Thursday said he will discuss it with the party's central leadership.

Ministerial aspirants, meanwhile, have continued lobbying to secure a berth in the new cabinet.

Mr Bommai is going to Delhi on Friday morning to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP national president JP Nadda.

"This is my first visit (as CM), this will be to greet them and take their blessings," the Chief Minister said.

Speaking to reporters on his arrival at Hubballi on his way to flood and rain-ravaged Uttara Kannada district, he said after his Delhi visit, he will seek the leadership's appointment to discuss the cabinet expansion and during that trip things may be finalised.

Earlier in the day, speaking to reporters in Bengaluru, in response to a question about pressure on him from Ministerial aspirants, he said, "it is common. Once someone becomes the CM and has to expand the cabinet, it is common."

He also said that the Prime Minister spoke to him over phone on Wednesday and wished him all the best, as he also expressed hopes of good administration under his leadership.

"When I go to Delhi to meet the party leadership, I will also try to meet our Members of Parliament and central Ministers from Karnataka on the pending projects and issues concerning the state," he added.

Mr Bommai, who was elected as the new leader of the BJP legislature party on Tuesday, following BS Yediyurappa's resignation, took oath as the Chief Minister on Wednesday.

Stating that he has spoken to senior BJP leader and former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, who has decided not to be part of the new cabinet, Mr Bommai said he will meet him personally and discuss about it with the party leadership.

"I have told him (Mr Shettar) that I will come and speak to him personally. We have close bonding as we have grown together. We were friends even before we came to politics, so I have good regard, love and affection towards him and he too has similar feelings for me. We had a good relationship even when we were in different parties," he said.

Mr Shettar said, as he is a senior leader and a former Chief Minister, he has decided to opt out, and has got good response for his stand from various quarters, across the state.

"Despite being a former Chief Minister, I was part of (Mr) Yediyurappa's cabinet because (Mr) Yediyurappa is our senior and tallest leader of the party and I was Minister under him earlier too, there was no uneasiness there. But in today's situation, I'm a senior leader, so I'm not joining," Mr Shettar said.

If anyone else had become CM also, his decision would have been the same, Mr Shettar added.

Mr Shettar said he has made his stand known to state BJP president, the Chief Minister and Mr Yediyurappa besides Union Minister Pralhad Joshi, and maintained that he is committed to the party, as his family has served it from the Jana Sangh days.

Meanwhile, some Kuruba seers urged the ruling BJP to make senior party leader from the community KS Eshwarappa, the Deputy Chief Minister.

"As (Mr) Eshwarappa has put efforts to build the party, without any black mark, he should have become the Chief Minister, but as (Mr) Bommai is in that position now, (Mr) Eshwarappa should be made the Deputy Chief Minister. We are confident that the BJP leadership will take an appropriate decision in this regard," the Swamijis said.

On his part, Mr Eshwarappa who had in the past served as the state BJP president, Deputy Chief Minister and Minister said, he will abide by the party decision.

"I'm a BJP "karyakarta", pontiffs and leaders of various communities have said that I should be made Deputy Chief Minister, I might become, I'm not saying I won't become, it is for the party to decide. I will abide by the decision, will follow their direction," he said.

Former Minister Murugesh Nirani, who was also said to be in the race for CM post, said who should be in the cabinet is left to the discretion of the Chief Minister, and they will abide by his decision.

Another former Minister and senior MLA Umesh Katti expressed confidence about becoming a Minister.

"I'm confident that (Mr) Bommai will not leave me, when he expands cabinet...if he makes me Minister I will work or else will work as a MLA...I'm still 60 years old, and hope to continue in politics for a few more years," he said.

MP Renukacharya, MLA, who is a (Mr) Yediyurappa loyalist, said he along with other legislators from Davangere district have urged the leadership to give adequate representation for central Karnataka region in the new cabinet.

Kudalasangama-based Lingayat Panchamasali Peetha Seer Basava Jaya Mrutyunjaya Swami, who is demanding reservation for Panchamasali Lingayat community to be considered under Category 2A of OBC, said they had expected a leader from the community to get the CM post but things changed at the last moment.

He also demanded adequate political representation for the community.

Expanding the Ministry will be the first big challenge before the new Chief Minister as he will have to navigate through the cabinet formation exercise by maintaining balance between factions within the ruling BJP.

There are several aspirants among the party old guard, and legislators who had joined the BJP after quitting the Congress-JD(S) coalition in 2019.