K’taka CM puts off ministry expansion

Karnataka Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda on Friday deferred his plans to expand the cabinet.

Bangalore: Karnataka Chief Minister DV
Sadananda Gowda on Friday deferred his plans to expand the cabinet
till the completion of the Udupi-Chikmaglur Lok Sabha
byelection slated for next month.

"We will expand the cabinet after the bypoll results,"
Gowda told reporters here.

Saddled with a whopping 16 portfolios, Gowda had yesterday
said he proposed to expand his ministry "shortly" and would
seek the BJP central leadership`s nod for the exercise.

There are 11 ministerial vacancies in the state as against
its permitted strength of 34 and Gowda is expected to fill at
least seven berths.

Four vacancies arose this month alone with the resignation
of three ministers who were caught on camera watching sleazy
clippings on their mobile phone in the assembly and the death
of Higher Education Minister VS Acharya.

The Election Commission yesterday announced the schedule
for the byelection to Udupi-Chikmagalur, a seat vacated by
Gowda after his election to the state Assembly.

Gowda also said the announcement about the new Lokayukta
would be made only after the bypoll.

The government has already set in motion afresh the process
of consultation to select the candidate to head the
anti-corruption watchdog after Governor HR Bhardwaj recently
rejected the BJP Government`s choice of former Kerala High
Court chief justice SR Bannurmath.

A few days ago, Gowda had said he would write to Opposition
leaders on the Lokayukta appointment and the process would be
completed in ten days. The Lokayukta post has been lying
vacant in the state for the past nearly five months.

The announcement of the bypoll has also put a question mark
over the presentation of state budget for 2012-13.

"Since the poll code will come into effect from the date of
announcement of the poll calender, the budget cannot be
presented. We need to clarify with Election Commission of
India," state election commission sources said.