Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Saturday said that he is expecting to receive a green signal from the BJP central leadership regarding the Karnataka cabinet expansion in a couple of days and that he will soon leave for New Delhi once again to finalise the list of names.
Bommai was in the national capital on Friday when he held discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other central BJP leaders.
“Most likely they (BJP top brass) will send a message to me in two days and I'll have to go to Delhi once again. We will finalise the cabinet," Bommai said on Saturday. When asked whether the cabinet expansion will take place in two stages, he told reporters in Bengaluru on his arrival from Delhi that it cannot be revealed now.
Bommai, a confidante of former Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa, was sworn in as the new chief minister on Wednesday. The Karnataka BJP legislature party on Tuesday evening had elected Bommai as its new leader to succeed Yediyurappa.
Bommai, who served two terms as a member of the Karnataka Legislative Council early in his career, is currently an MLA from Shiggaon, a town in Haveri district in northern Karnataka.
On Saturday evening, speaking to reporters after reviewing the Covid situation in a few districts, the Chief Minister assured that the cabinet expansion will be done at the earliest and will not take much time.
Clarifying that he has not submitted any list of Ministers to the high command, he said he may get a call from the high command on Monday and will soon go to Delhi.
"Ours is a national party. Suggestions and discussions should happen. After that a decision will be taken (on cabinet expansion)," he added.
Ministerial aspirants, meanwhile, have continued lobbying to secure a berth in the new cabinet.
While several legislators, including some former Ministers, are camping in Delhi and are lobbying to make it to the new cabinet, some have openly expressed their aspirations to become Ministers.
According to party sources, some legislators like Ramesh Jarkiholi, M P Renukacharya and Munirathna have met former Chief Minister and BJP veteran B S Yediyurappa at his residence here.
Demanding a Ministerial post, Haveri MLA Neharu Olekar said he should be given an opportunity in the new cabinet and it is the wish of party workers from the constituency, who have even staged a demonstration.
"Our fight will not end. This is the third time and I should be given the opportunity... I'm confident that the leaders will bless me.
No opportunity has been given so far to anyone from the Chalawadi community by BJP, while Congress has given... so there is the fear of them shifting towards Congress," he said.
Senior BJP leader and former Minister K S Eshwarappa said he has been getting several calls stating that he should have been made the Chief Minister after Yediyurappa was removed and at least he should be made Deputy Chief Minister now.
"It is for the high command to decide," he said.
Stating that cabinet formation is left to the discretion of the Chief Minister, another senior leader and former Minister V Somanna said Basavaraj Bommai is close to him and has experience.
"His father was also a CM...he will choose the right cabinet ministers."
Downplaying reports of a rift between him and another senior BJP leader R Ashoka, he said "it is an internal matter between us. It is an old issue and has nothing to do with cabinet formation or becoming a Minister."
Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah urged that the cabinet be formed at the earliest, as the CM alone cannot handle things.
Meanwhile officials have to be instructed to take measures to manage flood and the COVID situation, he said.
"I don't think he (CM) discussed cabinet expansion during his Delhi visit. Maybe he may go once again...but he should have discussed it and finalised, given the current situation," he said.
Bommai, who was elected as the new leader of the BJP legislature party on Tuesday following Yediyurappa's resignation, took oath as the Chief Minister on Wednesday.
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 a balance between factions within the ruling BJP.
There are several aspirants among the party old guard and youngsters.
There are also legislators who had joined the BJP after quitting the Congress-JD(S) coalition in 2019.
(With PTI inputs)