Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda on Thursday dismissed reports of a change in leadership, saying there had been “speculation” ever since the party came to power in the State.

“It (speculation) continues,” he told mediapersons after releasing a voluminous progress report of the four-year rule of the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the State.

Asked about his Delhi visit, Mr. Gowda said: “As a Chief Minister, going to Delhi can’t be questioned by anybody. At present I have got certain works in Delhi. So I need to go there”.

But minutes later, the Chief Minister cancelled the trip to New Delhi after the party high command reportedly informed him that there was no need for him to come to the national capital.

The faction led by the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa is propping up the candidature of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister Jagadish Shettar to replace Mr. Gowda, even as there are reports that BJP State unit President K.S. Eshwarappa and senior party leader and MP, Ananth Kumar, are also in the race.

To a query, he said he had discussed the issue of Cabinet expansion and filling up vacant ministerial berths with the party high command. “We will probably go ahead with the Cabinet expansion after the Presidential polls,” dropping broad hints that he will continue in power.

Cabinet expansion

Stating that the Cabinet expansion had been held up due to various reasons, he said issue would be taken up with the central leaders.

Absence of ministers has not affected the government’s performance as is evident from the performance highlighted in the report with several departments winning national and international awards, he said.

“I have been constantly reviewing and monitoring the functioning of different departments. There are several very efficient, capable officers and staff to deliver the goods,” he said.

Eshwarappa absent

State BJP president K.S. Eshwarappa, who too aspires to become the Chief Minister in the present political power struggle in the State, chose to keep off the Chief Minister’s press conference even though he was very much present in the Vidhana Soudha.

Barely a few ministers — B.N. Bache Gowda, S. Suresh Kumar and Govind Karjol along with senior officials — attended the press meet.