BS Yediyurappa had said that most of the disqualified JDS-Congress MLAs who got re-elected on BJP tickets would be made ministers (Photo Credit: PTI File)
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Sunday said the expansion of his ministry will take place on February 6 and 13 MLAs will take the oath of office. Ten legislators who had joined the BJP from other parties, including the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular), will be among those who will be inducted into the cabinet, he said. Yediyurappa had on January 31 received the nod from his party's central leadership for expanding his six-month-old cabinet.
The exercise has been on the cards ever since the BJP won 12 of the 15 seats in the December 5 assembly bypolls, helping the Yediyurappa government retain majority in the House.
"The cabinet expansion will take place on February 6 with the oath-taking ceremony at the Raj Bhavan at 10.30 am," the chief minister told reporters here.
Thirteen MLAs, including 10 who had joined the BJP from other parties, including Congress and JD(S), will take the oath of office, he said.
Earlier, Yediyurappa had said that most of the disqualified JD(S)-Congress MLAs who got re-elected in the bypolls on BJP tickets would be made ministers, but there would not be additional deputy chief ministers. He had given an assurance to all 11 re-elected legislators that they would be made ministers.
On Sunday, Yediyurappa acknowledged that he could not have come to power if the 17 Congress-JD(S) MLAs had not been disqualified, but cited limitations in inducting all of them into the cabinet. He, however, reiterated that whatever promises he had made to the disqualified MLAs will be fulfilled.
Asked about former Rane Bennur MLA R Shankar, who was disqualified from the assembly and not given a BJP ticket in the December bypolls, Yediyurappa said he will be made an MLC first and a minister later.
On AH Vishwanath and MTB Nagaraj, who had joined the BJP and unsuccessfully contested the bypolls from Hunasuru and Hoskote respectively, the chief minister said, "According to the Supreme Court order, those who lost the elections cannot be made (ministers)."
The announcement dealt a blow to the MLAs who had defected from the Congress and the JD(S) and were instrumental in helping the BJP secure a majority in the Karnataka Assembly.
MLAs Mahesh Kumatahalli, Vishwanath and Nagaraj reminded Yediyurappa of 'vachana dharma', the religious obligation to fulfil a promise.
Amid rumours that he may be excluded from the cabinet, Kumathalli, who had won from the Athani constituency, said he was pained.
"We have trusted him (Yediyurappa). We are ready to do whatever work he will assign. We will firmly remain with the BJP but I am hurt," he said.
"Even if they (BJP leaders) don't make me a minister and assign me the job to sweep the BJP office in Bengaluru, I will do it," he said.
Vishwanath reminded Yediyurappa of his obligation to fulfil his promise.
"It is up to him to keep his 'vachana dharma'. I am not going to call him. It is up to him," an apparently aggrieved Vishwanath told reporters in Mysuru.
"The apex court allowed us to contest the election... Thus, we came out of our impurity the day we filed our nomination papers," he added.
Vishwanath also sought to know how Laxman Savadi continued to be the deputy chief minister despite losing the 2018 assembly election.
"I am also hearing that the Channapatna leader will be inducted," he said, referring to the speculation that BJP leader C P Yogeshwar, who lost to H D Kumaraswamy in the 2018 elections from Channapatna constituency, may be inducted into the cabinet.
Nagaraj said, "I don't know about the legal complications. Our leader is the chief minister. We trust him. We have faith that he will fulfil the promises he made to us."
Currently, there are 18 ministers, including the chief minister, in the cabinet, which has a sanctioned strength of 34. Sixteen berths are vacant.
The cabinet expansion exercise will be a delicate task for Yediyurappa as he has to ensure adequate representation of various castes and regions.
The ministry already has eight Lingayats, including Yediyurappa; three Vokkaligas; a Brahmin; three SCs, two OBCs and one ST.
Opposition parties have been critical of the BJP and Yediyurappa over the delay in the cabinet expansion, alleging that he is weak and his administration has collapsed.