Karnataka Cabinet expansion on card; Shah-Bommai meet to set poll course

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, December 14: Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai is meeting Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah on Wednesday evening to give effect to the strategy for the upcoming state Assembly elections. Bommai may expand his council of ministers as part of a much delayed Cabinet expansion exercise to give a finishing touch to the social engineering of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the poll bound states.

Sources said that CM Bommai will be calling on Shah this evening, while he may also call on the BJP chief JP Nadda. Shah may also take stock of the Karnataka-Maharashtra land feud, which is under litigation, as the issue may take a political turn in the upcoming Assembly elections. Shah will also discuss the feedback gathered by the Central party from Karnataka and suggest tweaking outreach plans accordingly.

“The Cabinet expansion in Karnataka may finally take place, as pressure is mounting on the party leaders from some of the legislators, who are making claims on the caste and regional aspiration grounds. Even while the Assembly elections are just a little more than four months away, the Cabinet expansion will send out political messages and help the BJP get on the right side of the social engineering,” said a senior BJP functionary.

The BJP national general secretary Arun Singh, who is Karnataka in-charge of the party, has been a frequent visitor to the state, with much of his focus directed to addressing the faction-fighting. With Bommai having emerged as the face of the BJP and the Lingayata successor of former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, the party leadership in New Delhi is keen to ask him to draft the rabble rousers within the legislature party in his council of ministers so that there’s no bolting at the time of the elections, added the sources.

The BJP is also keen to make a change in the state party chief face Nalin Kumar Kateel, who has been found to be highly inadequate in responding to the organizational challenges in Karnataka, sources said, adding that he’s also been found to be no match to Congress’ state unit chief DK Shivkumar. Shah is also likely to take stock of the BJP’s caste-based outreach in Karnataka by the party. Bommai by effecting hike in the reservation for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes has sought to blunt Congress’ Dalit Mallikarjun Kharge card.

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