Cabinet expansion unlikely till completion of five State polls

Yatnal warns of ‘exodus’ if Cabinet is not expanded within a fortnight

The last week has seen renewed activity from ministerial aspirants trying to mount pressure on Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to expand/reshuffle his Cabinet.

However, even consultations for the exercise will likely begin only after completion of five State polls, including the crucial Uttar Pradesh, and once Governments are formed in these States, sources in the Bharatiya Janata Party said. The results of the five State polls will be announced on March 10.

“None in the party high command has neither the time nor the mindspace for a Cabinet expansion here, when all resources have been pressed into the battle for Uttar Pradesh,” a senior party strategist said.

He also added that the Uttar Pradesh poll results will decide on the course of BJP politics in the run up to the 2024 Parliamentary elections.

“There is still a strong lobby pressing for leadership change in the State. A final decision on the State’s politics will be taken after the Uttar Pradesh elections and the prognosis it offers for BJP going ahead,” the strategist added.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bommai responding to a question on Cabinet expansion on Monday said, “There are four berths vacant in the Cabinet that need to be filled. The party high command knows all the developments in the State and will take a call on when to do what,” he said.

However, aspirants continue to lobby hard. Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, who recently met M.P. Renukacharya, another aspirant, met Ramesh Jarkiholi, also wanting to get back into the Cabinet, in the city on Monday.

Mr. Yatnal demanded the Cabinet be reshuffled and expanded in the next 15 days, to include “party loyalists.” He alleged that many Ministers had already “booked tickets” in Congress for the coming polls and there could be an exodus like in Uttar Pradesh.

“If the Cabinet is not expanded now, the new Ministers will not even get a year to perform,” he said. Mr. Renukacharya rued that several Ministers were not responding to MLAs and such Ministers must be sacked and new faces accommodated.

Senior Minister K.S. Eshwarappa has also mounted pressure for an early Cabinet expansion.

“With elections just over a year away, I don’t think it is politically wise to keep four Cabinet berths vacant. We should use those berths to provide regional and community representation and gear up to face the upcoming Assembly polls,” he told mediapersons on Monday.

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