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|April 4, 1998||
Karnataka cabinet expanded
Karnataka Chief Minister J H Patel today expanded his cabinet by inducting two ministers, raising its strength to 40.
Governor Khursheed Alam Khan administered the oath of office and secrecy to D Manjunath and B Somashekar at the Raj Bhavan in Bangalore.
Patel later told the media that Somashekar will be in charge of revenue and Manjunath forests. He said though he had planned to restructure the ministry after the budget session, commencing from April 15, it was necessary to induct the two ministers to shed some of the portfolios he had with him since the resignation of four ministers led by R V Deshpande who joined the Rashtriya Navanirmana Vedike of Union Commerce Minister Ramakrishna Hegde.
The exercise was also to provide adequate representation to the scheduled castes in the ministry, which had come down, he added.
Manjunath, a one-time dissident, had served in the H D Deve Gowda government in the state. Somashekar, who held the higher education portfolio, had resigned from the Patel ministry on September 12 last, following an allegation that he had copied in his law examination. However, he had been cleared by a judicial commission.
Patel said he would not bother about the number of ministers while restructuring the ministry next month. But it will not as big as the Kalyan Singh ministry in Uttar Pradesh, he added.
Asked if he would drop some ministers, he said, "All possibilities are there."
Defending large ministries, he said, ''Compact ministries have become redundant and, if development works had to be carried out, a larger size ministry is essential. With the assembly elections scheduled for December 1999, the government should function efficiently.''
Patel was sworn in as chief minister, along with Deputy Chief Minister P G Siddaramaiah on May 31, 1996 after Deve Gowda resigned on his becoming the prime minister.
Dissident activities, spearheaded by Manjunath commenced five days after Patel inducted 43 ministers, including 24 cabinet ministers, on June 5, 1996, drawing a lot of flak from the partymen.
He had declared that he would go in for a cabinet reshuffle in an attempt to assuage the dissidents. However, he had been postponing it for a number of reasons.
Janata Dal Parliamentary Board member K B Shanappa, who was made the excise minister, had to quit when he could not comply with the statutory obligation of becoming a member of either House of the state legislature within six months after being sworn in.
The cabinet strength was further reduced with Somashekar's resignation and the death of mines and geology minister S D Jayaram just before the Lok Sabha poll.
The Patel government suffered a major jolt when three cabinet ministers and a minister of state, led by Industries Minister R V Deshpande, quit the ministry and joined the Vedike.
Revenue Minister Ramesh Jigajinagi and Minister of State for Sports and Youth Affairs Ajaykumar Sarnaik had successfully contested the Lok Sabha election from Chikkodi and Bagalkot.
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