Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, who met Union Home Minister Amit Shah to discuss the much awaited expansion or rejig of his Cabinet on Wednesday, said the BJP central leadership would communicate its decision in this regard after discussions, and that “anything may happen at any time.”
He said the party high command would take a decision based on the developments during the next couple of days.
“I have met and spoken to Amit Shah on several issues, discussions have also taken place regarding the Cabinet. I have brought to his notice regarding the political situation and on matters required to take a decision regarding the Cabinet,” Bommai said.
Speaking to reporters, he said Shah has stated that he would speak to BJP national president J P Nadda and other central leaders of the party and take appropriate decisions.
“Based on the development over the next two-three days, we will decide and communicate, this is what he (Shah) has told me,” he added.
The Chief Minister is under pressure from aspirants to expand his Cabinet at the earliest, ahead of Assembly polls next year.
To a question whether this means that there won’t be Cabinet expansion or rejig for now, Bommai said, “Anything may happen at any time…as a political party this has to be decided. Based on the political situation such decisions are taken and in this backdrop I have informed him (Shah) what the current situation is.”
The Chief Minister’s meeting with Shah gained significance as Bommai on Tuesday had said that he would not be holding consultations regarding Cabinet with the BJP central leadership during this Delhi visit, citing their non-availability.
Amid murmurs in BJP circles that a top-to-bottom overhaul of the Cabinet cannot be ruled out, ministerial aspirants are hopeful that a decision is likely soon regarding Cabinet expansion or reshuffle, and there are even talks that several incumbents could make way for fresh faces.
There are currently five positions vacant in the Cabinet, which has 29 ministers, including the Chief Minister, against the sanctioned strength of 34.
Some legislators have even been advocating a Gujarat-like overhaul of the Karnataka Cabinet soon to make way for new faces, ahead of the Assembly elections.
Asked whether it would be expansion or rejig or on the Gujarat or Uttar Pradesh model, Bommai said a decision would be taken based on the political situation and administration in Karnataka, and inputs have gone from the party’s State unit too.
“No names were discussed…he (Shah) said we will let you know, after that discussion of names will be done,” he said.
Stating that the next one week is “very important” politically, the Chief Minister said elections for local bodies might have to be held across the State, its implications would also be discussed by the central leaders, and,”they will inform us”.
He said during his meeting with Shah, he also discussed the Supreme Court’s order, its ramifications and the decision the State election commission might take.
He said discussions also took place regarding the upcoming Rajya Sabha, Legislative Council and local bodies polls.
Bommai was referring to the Supreme Court’s order on Tuesday directing the Madhya Pradesh State Election Commission (SEC) to issue a poll programme for local bodies within two weeks.
The apex court said the ongoing activity of delimitation or formation of the ward cannot be a legitimate ground to be set forth by any authority to not discharge its Constitutional obligation in notifying the election programme at the opportune time and to ensure that the elected body is installed before the expiry of five-year term of the outgoing body.
The Bench has said its order and directions are not limited to Madhya Pradesh but to all the States/Union Territories and the respective election commission to abide by the same without fail, to uphold the constitutional mandate.
Faced with the possibility of local body polls that were due being announced after this Supreme Court order, Bommai on Tuesday said he has instructed the Law Department and the Advocate General to study the full text of the order, as it would be applicable to the state too.
The zilla and taluk panchayats elections that were due in May-June 2021 were not held, as the State government constituted a delimitation commission to redraw panchayat boundaries, subsequently the Supreme Court said OBC reservation in local bodies should be provided after passing a three-pronged test criteria.
In the case of the BBMP, the civic body has not had an elected council since 2020 and is being governed by senior IAS officers as its Administrator and Chief Commissioner.
Elections to the city civic body were due in 2020, but the government started a delimitation process to increase the number of wards under BBMP from 198 to 243. In December 2020, the SC stayed the elections and the case is still pending.