Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Monday said the much-awaited expansion or reshuffle of his cabinet will take place on January 13 or 14, and Bharatiya Janata Party president J P Nadda will be invited for the swearing-in.
Though the chief minister indicated seven new faces will be inducted, he did not make it clear whether it will be a cabinet expansion or reshuffle.
The ministry currently has 27 members and seven berths are vacant.
As it became clear that the much-awaited exercise would finally happen this week, ministerial aspirants stepped up efforts to secure a berth on Monday even as speculation that a few incumbents may be dropped kept some on tenterhooks.
"On January 13 or 14 according to convenience of our national president J P Nadda and Karnataka in-charge (general secretary Arun Singh), by inviting them, swearing in ceremony will be organised," Yediyurappa told reporters.
After paying tributes to former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri on his death anniversary, he said, about seven people will be inducted.
Asked whether it will be cabinet expansion or reshuffle, he said, "Let's see, you will get to know."
On returning from New Delhi after holding discussions with Nadda and Union Home Minister Amit Shah on the cabinet expansion, Yediyuurappa had on Sunday said seven members would be inducted and that he will finalise the names on Monday.
Yediyurappa was waiting to carry out the expansion/reshuffle as he was asked by the BJP president during their meeting in New Delhi on November 18 to wait for the clearance from the central leadership.
Amid reports that he might be dropped, Excise Minister H Nagesh said he was not aware of any such move.
The minister said he was promised that he would not be eased out from the cabinet as he had played a crucial role in the BJP forming government and he trusted the chief minister.
"It is I who paved the way for BJP government formation, CM and people of the state are aware of it," Nagesh, a minister in the previous JDS-Congress government, said.
Responding to similar speculations about being dropped, from the ministry, women and child development minister Shashikala Jolle said she has not got any such intimation from the party leadership so far.
She, however, maintained she will abide by the decision of the high command.
The cabinet expansion or reshuffle is expected to be a tightrope walk, considering that there are too many aspirants, from the party old guard to Congress-JD-S rebels-turned BJP legislators, whose revolt had paved the way for formation of the present BJP government.
Among the aspirants are party seniors such as Umesh Katti, eight-time MLA from Hukkeri, who has been sulking for some time for not getting a ministerial berth, six time MLA G H Thippareddy, Chief Minister's political secretary M P Renukacharya and Arvind Limbavali.
Congress-JD-S rebels-turned BJP legislators, including Munirathna, R Shankar and M T B Nagaraj, who helped the party come to power, are also keen to become ministers.
While Munirathna is now BJP MLA from RR Nagar, Shankar and Nagaraj are MLCs.
"I have never lobbied for the ministership and will never do it in the future as well... if it’s in my fate to become a minister I will become and no one can deny it to me," Katti said.
Pointing to his seniority, Thippareddy, who represents Chitradurga constituency, claimed it was the people's wish that the district has to get the minister post.
"Chitradurga has not got the minister post whenever the BJP has come to power in the state and we are of the feeling that the CM and our leadership will make way for it," he said.
Munirthna said he was confident that Yediyurappa will keep up the "promise" and will take an appropriate decision.
Yediyurappa had recently indicated that MLC C P Yogeshwar, who was said to have played a key role in managing Congress-JD-S rebel MLAs during the political turmoil in the state in 2019, that eventually led to BJP to come to power, would be made a minister.