With pressure mounting on him to expand or rejig his cabinet, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Monday indicated that he is waiting for the BJP leadership’s consent on going ahead with the exercise, and was also trying to bring it to their notice. As his government completes six months in office on January 28, the Chief Minister said, he will hold a press conference and bring out a booklet, listing out the achievements of his administration.
“Four (ministerial) berths are vacant, so naturally there will be aspirations. There is nothing wrong with it. Party leadership is aware of when and how to do it, I’m also bringing it to leadership’s notice. Whenever the leadership calls me for discussion, I will give them all the details," Bommai said in response to a question regarding cabinet expansion on reshuffle. Speaking to reporters in response to a question on appointments to boards and corporations, he said, it has to be discussed in the party and any action in this regard will be based on what transpires there.
“It depends on the party, the party will sit and decide on the basis of which further action will be taken, there is no such proposal regarding appointments for board and corporations before me as the Chief Minister for now. Party is looking at it, after deliberations they will give a report, based on which we will see…." he said.
Ahead of the 2023 Assembly polls, there is pressure mounting on the Chief Minister to expand or reshuffle his cabinet soon to make room for fresh faces, and also to fill up the vacant posts of heads for for various boards and corporations, by appointing party legislators and office-bearers to it.
There are currently 30 Ministers in the State Cabinet, including the Chief Minister, against the sanctioned strength of 34. However, there are talks in party circles that the expansion or reshuffle of the cabinet is likely, only after the Assembly elections in five states.
Recently some legislators have even been advocating Gujarat-like overhaul of the Karnataka Cabinet soon, to make way for new faces, and have noted that if it is done in March, it will be too late for ministers to make any mark, even in their own constituencies. In September, the BJP completely overhauled the Gujarat’s Council of Ministers by selecting new faces for the Bhupendra Patel government, with no Minister from the previous Vijay Rupani-led Ministry being inducted.
Senior BJP legislators Basanagouda Patil Yatnal and M P Renukacharya on Thursday had held closed-door discussions, there are also reports about similar meeting in Belagavi involving Minister Umesh Katti, former Deputy CM Laxman Savadi and other legislators from the region. Asked about a “secret meeting" between some BJP legislators, the Chief Minister brushed it aside, terming it as a casual meeting between leaders of the party.
“I don’t know…..you (media) yourself are calling it a secret meeting….there is no confusion….leaders casually meet at several instances, you depicting it as something else, is not right. Congress leaders meet casually at different places, similarly BJP leaders also meet, there is nothing in it," he said. He also clarified that the meetings scheduled at the BJP office from tomorrow are regarding Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike elections.
The Chief Minister said any further decision regarding COVID related curbs will be taken after observing and studying the virus spread and the rate of hospitalisation and related factors. “Regarding COVID we have already taken certain decisions and have lifted week-end curfew, we will have to see how the infection spreads in the days to come and the condition of those infected. We will observe everything and decide on the future course of action," he said.
To a question regarding the budget preparations, Bommai said he has been holding internal meetings with the Finance Department since December, also with revenue generating departments, and have given directions to take steps to reach the targets. “Now because of COVID since December-end, I will have one more round of meeting on January 25 with the Finance department, and thereafter we will have discussions regarding proposals by various departments and prepare a budget," he added.