The much awaited expansion of the HD Kumaraswamy-led coalition cabinet in Karnataka would take place "at the earliest", said Congress leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Sunday. Referring to the ongoing elections in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, Siddaramaiah said the party's state leadership would soon seek Congress President Rahul Gandhi's time to discuss about the expansion.
"We will have to do it (cabinet expansion); we will do it as soon as possible," he said.
Karnataka: ACB conducts raids in premises of two government officials, seizes nearly Rs 5 crore cash, 4 kg gold
"It (expansion) will happen at the earliest...elections are about to end there (in MP and Rajasthan). In between we will seek time to discuss and do it," the head of the Congress-JD(S) coalition coordination committee said.
State Congress Chief Dinesh Gundu Rao and Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara had recently said the cabinet expansion would take place within this month.
The Congress-JD(S) coalition had put on hold, the cabinet expansion and appointment of MLAs as heads of boards and corporations, which was to take place in October, as the schedule for the November 3 bypolls to two assembly and three parliamentary seats in the state was announced.
Several MLAs, especially those from the Congress, who are aspirants for ministerial posts, have been demanding the expansion to be taken up at the earliest.
Many Congress MLAs feel that this is the right time for cabinet expansion, with the ruling coalition winning two of the three Lok Sabha seats and both the assembly constituencies, according to party sources.
With the growing number of aspirants and limited ministerial berths in hand, Congress is preparing a list of MLAs to be appointed as heads to boards and corporations, in an effort to prevent any kind of resentment, party sources said.
The decision to expand the cabinet has come amid speculations that some disgruntled Congress MLAs were still being wooed by the BJP, besides reported factionalism within the party.
This would be the second cabinet expansion since the coalition came to power in May in a post-poll tie-up between Congress and JD(S).
Congress will have 22 ministers and the JD(S) 12, under the power sharing arrangement reached by the two parties.
Kumaraswamy had inducted 25 ministers in the earlier exercise on June 6, taking the ministry's strength to 27.
There are now six vacant ministerial positions left for the Congress, and two for the JD(S).
Responding to a question about Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwaras statement that he was ready to take up the responsibility of chief ministership if the high command so desired, Siddaramaiah said the top post was not vacant now.