Special Correspondent

BJP asks Horticulture Minister S.K. Bellubbi to wait for one more day for submitting resignation

Bellubbi took resignation letter to party on Saturday

Ministry reshuffle before Yeddyurappa leaves for the U.S.

BANGALORE: Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa is likely to reshuffle his Cabinet on Monday by giving ministerial berths to one or two defectors from the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress who have joined the Bharatiya Janata Party by quitting their Assembly membership.

An equal number of existing members of the Cabinet will be asked to step down to accommodate the newcomers as the B.S. Yeddyurappa Ministry has reached its maximum strength of 34 members.

Sources in the BJP told The Hindu that the former minister Umesh Khatti, who quit as MLA from Hukkeri Assembly Constituency in Belgaum district, is sure to get the ministerial post. Horticulture Minister S.K. Bellubbi, who is a first time minister, will quit his post on Sunday to accommodate Mr. Khatti.

BJP State unit president D.V. Sadananda Gowda told presspersons in Bangalore on Saturday that Mr. Bellubbi had voluntarily brought his resignation letter to the party office on Saturday itself. However, he was asked to put off the decision by a day as the Chief Minister would return to Bangalore from Shimoga on Sunday.

According to party sources, two defectors might be made ministers if V. Somanna, a dominant Congress Lingayat MLA from Bangalore city joined the BJP by quitting his Assembly seat and that if the party decides to reward him with a ministerial post. In that case, Muzrai and Housing Minister B.N. Krishnaiah Shetty, a protégée of the Chief Minister, might have to sacrifice his ministerial post.

Mr. Shetty told presspersons in Bangalore on Saturday that his resignation had not been sought so far by the Chief Minister. However, he expressed his willingness to step down if asked to quit.

The party leaders were said to be in touch with former ministers and Congress MLAs Baburao Chinchansoor and Gurupadappa Nagamarapalli. However, they were not likely to get Cabinet berths even if they joined the party.

Although speculation was rife in the State secretariat that three or four new members might get a place in the Cabinet, there was no confirmation in this regard from the party leaders.

Mr. Sadananda Gowda did not say how many new comers would be inducted on Monday. He said it was the prerogative of the Chief Minister.

The ministry reshuffle would be held before the Chief Minister leaves Bangalore on Wednesday for the Kannada meet to be held in Chicago, U.S..

Mr. Sadananda Gowda said a 25-member team of legislators from the BJP was likely to attend the AKKA convention. But they would be paying for their travel.