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The second Cabinet expansion of the over four-month-old BJP government in Karnataka would take place after party chief Amit Shah approved the names to be finalised soon, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa said on Tuesday.
"The Cabinet will be expanded soon after Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi approve the names to be finalised in consultations with the party high command when I go to Delhi in 3-4 days," Yediyurappa told reporters here.
As declared on Tuesday after the ruling party won 12 of the 15 Assembly seats in the December 5 by-elections, Yediyurappa said he would make all the 11 winners ministers as he had promised them for bringing the party back to power.
"I am committed to honour the word I have given them for resigning their Assembly seats and joining our party to contest and win on our symbol (Lotus). They have to be rewarded for sacrificing their seats, which led to the fall of the previous JD-S-Congress coalition government in July," recalled Yediyurappa.
The first Cabinet expansion took place on August 20 when 17 BJP legislators, including an independent were inducted, with three as deputy chief ministers.
In the 34-member ministry, including the chief minister, 16 cabinet posts are vacant to be filled in the second phase of its expansion.
Resignations of 17 rebel legislators, including 14 from the Congress and 3 from the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) in mid-July led to the fall of the 14-month-old coalition government on July 23 after its chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy lost the confidence motion he moved on July 18 for want of majority in the Assembly.
Though former Assembly speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar disqualified the 17 rebels on July 25-28 for the remaining term of the House that lasts till May 2023, the Supreme Court, however, allowed them to recontest in the by-elections on November 13 while upholding their disqualification.
Of the 11 winners who defected, 9 are from the Congress and 2 from the JD-S.
Two defectors - M.T.B. Nagaraj from the Congress and A.H. Vishwanath from the JD-S lost in the by-elections to independent Sharath Kumar Bachegowda and H.P. Manjunath of the Congress.
Nagaraj, the richest candidate in the by-elections was the state housing minister in the previous coalition government.
Though independent-turned-Congress defector B.L. Shankar joined the BJP on November 14, he was not given the party ticket to re-contest from Ranibennur in Haveri district. Instead, the party fielded its local leader G. Arun Kumar, who won, defeating K.B. Koliwad of the Congress.
In a related development, hectic lobbying began among the ruling party's legislators for grabbing the remaining 5 cabinet posts after 11 posts are filled by the winners.
One more Congress defector to the BJP - Munirathna Naidu is yet to contest as byelection to R.R. Nagar in Bengaluru southwest was not held due to litigation in the Karnataka High Court over its results in the May 2018 Assembly polls.
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