January 22, 2021 3:55:21 am
CHIEF MINISTER B S Yediyurappa on Thursday handed out portfolios to seven new ministers who were inducted into his cabinet on January 13, and effected changes to portfolios of 10 ministers, triggering immediate disgruntlement among some in his Cabinet.
In the biggest changes, Forest and Environment Minister Anand Singh – an accused in a CBI case of illegal mining and violations of forest laws – was divested of the forest portfolio and given tourism while senior minister J C Madhuswamy, who was in charge of law and parliamentary affairs, was divested of his entire portfolio and given the minor portfolios of medical education and Kannada and culture.
change of portfolio is being seen as a likely fallout of the unprecedented ruckus in the state legislative council last year when the BJP tried to oust the Congress chairman. The law and parliamentary affairs portfolio has been given to Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai.
Madhuswamy was among a bunch of seemingly unhappy ministers who did not turn up for a Cabinet meeting called Thursday by Yediyurappa. The other ministers who gave the meeting a miss were new inductee M T B Nagaraj, who is reportedly unhappy with the excise portfolio, and K Gopalaiah, who is left with horticulture after being divested of the food and civil supplies portfolio.
Soon after the new allocations were announced, Nagaraj, Gopalaiah and another unhappy minister K Sudhakar, who was divested of the medical education portfolio, held a meeting to discuss their concerns. Incidentally, the three ministers are all new entrants to the BJP along with Anand Singh. They were among 17 Congress and JD(S) MLAs who defected to BJP in 2019 to help Yediyurappa come to power.
The BJP government played down concerns of dissidence .
Anand Singh, whose forest portfolio has gone to BJP veteran Arvind Limbavalli, said on Thursday: “The CM spoke to me about the change in my portfolio. I agreed and said I have some experience in the tourism ministry and cited it as a preference. The tenure as forest minister was an opportunity to learn about a new ministry.” A four-time MLA and businessman with mining interests, Singh was appointed forest minister in February 2020 despite being accused of illegal mining and forest crimes in 15 cases since 2012, including CBI cases.
New Law Minister Bommai, who conducted the press briefing after the Cabinet meeting, said all the ministers who did not turn up for the meeting had excused themselves. “Following the Cabinet expansion and changes in portfolios, the CM has spoken to many of the ministers. The ministers have spoken what is on their minds and the CM is looking at how these things can be addressed…” he said.
“Madhuswamy was in Tumakuru. Some others also sought permission and stayed away. There is no question of disgruntlement… There is no differentiation done on basis of whether MLAs are core BJP members or new entrants,” he said.
Among the seven new ministers inducted on January 13, Murugesh Nirani has been given the mining portfolio, C P Yogeshwar has been given minor irrigation, party veteran S Angara the fisheries and ports ministry, Arvind Limbavalli the forest ministry, R Shankar municipal administration, Nagaraj the excise ministry and Umesh Katti the food and civil supplies ministry.