Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s sudden New Delhi visit scheduled for Thursday, his second this month, has sparked off speculation in political circles, especially within the ruling BJP, about the much-awaited expansion or reshuffle of his cabinet. According to the tour programme released by his office, the Chief Minister would reach New Delhi on Thursday afternoon and return Friday evening.
His schedule in the national capital includes meeting Union Ministers. Though there is no reference to any meeting with party leaders in the schedule, speculation is that it is the BJP central leadership that has asked Bommai to come to the capital.
According to some sources, there is a possibility of discussion regarding Cabinet rejig during the meeting, while a few others felt it may be with regard to Presidential polls. The Chief Minister’s Delhi visit in the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to Karnataka earlier this week and BJP national president J P Nadda’s tour last weekend has given rise to speculations.
The Chief Minister is under pressure from some aspirants to expand his Cabinet at the earliest, ahead of Assembly polls next year. While some are of the opinion that at this juncture such an exercise would not be useful, as the tenure of the new inductees would be ”very less”, with Assembly polls fast approaching.
Amid rumours in BJP circles that a top-to-bottom overhaul of the Cabinet cannot be ruled out, ministerial aspirants are hopeful that a decision on Cabinet expansion or reshuffle is likely soon, 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.