BJP MLA raises pitch for cabinet berth for all defectors

Bengaluru, Jan 31 (PTI) As Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa camps in Delhi for discussions with BJP leadership on cabinet expansion, a key leader among the 11 disqualified Congress-JDS MLAs who won bypolls on the ruling party ticket on Friday made it clear all of them should be made ministers.

Gokak legislator Ramesh Jarkiholi, who had played a key role in bringing down the Congress-JDS coalition government paving the way for the BJP to come to power in July last year, also demanded Cabinet berth for two other defectors, who lost in the bypolls held in December.

The former Congress leader, however, added the final call will be taken by the party's central leadership.

'All the eleven should be given minister postwe continue to stress on it.regarding those who lost, it will not be decided today, but we urge that they should also be given,' Jarkiholi said replying to a question from reporters here.

He dubbed as media speculation reports that a few of the defectors would be denied miniterial berths in the six 'Our demand is that all eleven of us should be made Ministers, as we have sacrificed by resigning as MLAs and have taken risk. Those lost should also be made Ministers, but we leave it to the high command,' he said.

Jarkiholi said BJP was not behind their resignation as legislators' from Congress-JD (S), and the J P Nadda-led party was treating them well.

Shortly after Jarkiholi's media interaction, Yediyurappa got the green signal for the cabinet expansion from the central BJP leadership.

Except for one or two, most of the disqualified JDS- Congress MLAs who got re-elected in the bypolls on BJP tickets will be made ministers, he said, adding there won't be any additional deputy chief ministers.

In all 17 Congress and JD(S) legislators were disqualified by the assembly speaker last year after they revolted against the coalition government leading to its fall on July 13.

Of them, as many as 13 had contested the bypolls held for 15 assembly seats and barring A H Vishwanath (Hunsur) and M T B Nagaraj (Hoskote) all others emerged triumphant as BJP candidates.

Though Yediyurappa has made it clear that 11 who got re- elected in the bypolls on BJP ticket will be made ministers, according to sources, the central leadership is not keen on inducting all of them and wants to give opportunity to party loyalists also.

Vishwanath and Nagaraj have been openly demanding Cabinet berth for them stating that Yediyurappa had given a word to them.

Currently there are 18 ministers, including the Chief Minister in the cabinet that has a sanctioned strength of 34.

Sixteen berths are still vacant.

The cabinet expansion will not be an easy task for the Chief Minister as he will have to strike a balance by accommodating the victorious disqualified legislators as promised and also make place for the old guard, upset at being 'neglected' in the first round of the induction exercise.

He also has to give adequate representation to various castes and regions in his cabinet and also deal with allocation of key portfolios.

Responding to a question about the delay in the Ministry expansion, Jarkiholi said, 'let it be, even if it is delayed for a month, we are ready to wait. May be you (media) are upset.' He said they had not put any condition or given any deadline while joining the BJP.

'I request the media don't spread false news,' he added.

Also making it clear that he had never staked claim for Deputy Chief Minister post, Jarkiholi termed it as media creation.

'I'm making it clear I have never asked for it. We will abide by high command decision and give full cooperation. We will move ahead under the Chief Ministership of Yediyurappa,' he added.

Yediyurappa, who already has three deputies, had recently ruled out creation of any more Deputy Chief Minister's post.

Jarkiholi along with Health Minister Sriramulu had in the past made no secret of their ambition to become DCM. PTI KSU RS VS VS