After several rounds of discussions, including one with the central Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa inducted seven new ministers into the Karnataka cabinet and dropped one – Excise Minister H Nagesh.
Governor Vajubhai Vala administered the oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers at a ceremony at the Raj Bhavan in Bengaluru. The new cabinet members include four MLAs – Umesh Katti from Hukkeri, S Angara from Sullia, Murugesh Nirani from Bilgi and Arvind Limbavali from Mahadevapura – as well as MLCs R Shankar, MTB Nagaraj and CP Yogeshwar.
This is the third expansion of the 17-month-old cabinet led by Yediyurappa. The exercise wasn’t a smooth one for the CM or the ruling party as resentment erupted within the state BJP soon after Yediyurappa named the seven new cabinet members.
It is learnt that the BJP legislators have expressed serious reservations about unelected MLCs being made ministers and non-representation of certain regions in the cabinet, as majority of the new members are from Bengaluru and Belagavi districts. They have also claimed that seniority and sacrifice weren’t considered while deciding on the new cabinet picks.
Vijayapura City MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal accused the CM of yielding to blackmail and not considering honesty and sincerity while naming the new cabinet inductees. Saying that Yediyurappa and his family have ‘hijacked’ the BJP in Karnataka, he also requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to end dynastic politics in the state.
“The CM made those, who blackmailed him, ministers. Three people, one political secretary and two (sitting) ministers, had been blackmailing him with some of his CDs for the last three months. One, who took oath as minister today, paid a hefty sum to Vijayendra (CM’s son) apart from using his CDs to blackmail him,” Yatnal said.
SA Ramadass, senior MLA from Krishnaraja constituency in Mysuru, said grave injustice has been done to the old Mysuru region. “I have been serving the party for 28 years. Injustice has been done to the old Mysuru region. Any other party MLA from Mysuru could have been made minister,” he said.
Another ministerial aspirant, Honnali MLA and the CM’s political secretary MP Renukacharya, also voiced his misgivings about the new cabinet picks, saying that the government only considered two districts while deciding on the inductees and the CM as well as the ruling party seniors need to look into the issue of representation.
With the induction of Limbavali, the Yeddyurappa cabinet will now have eight ministers representing Bengaluru city. Belagavi will have five representatives in the cabinet, with the swearing-in of Katti.
Before the expansion on Wednesday, the Karnataka cabinet had 27 members, with seven ministerial berths yet to be filled. With seven new ministers sworn in and one dropped, there’s still one berth to be filled in the 34-member cabinet.
The seven new ministers are a mix of old party members and new entrants from Congress and JD(S). Yediyurappa assumed charge in July 2019 after the Congress-JD(S) government collapsed in the wake of a revolt by 17 MLAs of the ruling combine.
Formerly with the Congress and JDS respectively, R Shankar and MTB Nagaraj helped the BJP come to power after days of political turmoil and were, hence, rewarded with cabinet posts. Both served as ministers in the previous ruling coalition as well.
Yogeshwar, who is also said to have played a key role in the power shift by managing Congress and JD(S) dissidents during the tumultuous events in 2019, got a cabinet berth as well. While Katti is an eight-time MLA, Nirani and Limbavali were ministers in the previous BJP government. All are old faces in the saffron party. Angara, though a six-time MLA, will serve as minister for the first time.
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