A wave of dissatisfaction has hit the six-month-old BJP government against the backdrop of Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa’s announcement to induct 13 aspirants in the second cabinet expansion on February 6.
In the first cabinet expansion, the Chief Minister had inducted 17 ministers on August 20, 2019.
Among the 13, ten will be those defectors from Congress and the JD(S) who were disqualified earlier and won the assembly by-election in December last year.
The rest will be the ‘native BJP leaders’, as Deputy Chief Minister Govind Karjol put it.
Speculations are rife that Mahadevapura MLA Arvind Limbavali, Hukkeri MLA Umesh Katti and C P Yogeshwar, who had lost to H D Kumaraswamy from Channapatna assembly segment, would be inducted.
If Yogeshwar is included in the cabinet then he will be the second minister after Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadiwho had lost and yet made it to the cabinet.
The possible induction of Yogeshwar and Savadi, who was made Deputy Chief Minister despite losing the Assembly elections, are also a “reason” for discontent in the BJP.
Hectic activities began in the power corridor and MLAs started forming groups to impress upon the Chief Minister to include their members in the ministry.
While one group was from the “Kalyana Karnataka” region, the others were the defectors who will be excluded in the cabinet expansion.
A few MLAs from ‘Kalyana Karnataka’ region or erstwhile Hyderabad-Karnataka region comprising six districts, met at the Legislature Home and held a meeting.
The meeting was led by Shorapur MLA Narasimha Nayak aka Raju Gouda and Honnalli MLA M P Renukacharya.
The MLAs of the Kalyana Karnataka region were unanimous that their backward region should get representation in the cabinet.
Later, Gouda met the Chief Minister and requested that their region be given adequate representation in the cabinet, which is lacking development.
Talking to reporters, Gouda said, “We had given representations to all the MPs, MLAs and the Chief Minister. Today also we all had a meeting and later called on the Chief Minister requesting him to make any MLA from our region a minister.”
He said any imbalance in cabinet expansion will cause trouble to the MLAs from Kalyana Karnataka region.
“If you make the defeated candidates ministers then include 120 people in the cabinet,” an aggrieved Gouda taunted.
Renukacharya too echoed the same sentiments.
“If you give preference to the defeated candidates then what will happen to those who won the election? Where should the winners of election go? We emphasise upon giving preference to the winners.”
On the other hand, the defectors who jumped the Congress and the JD(S) ship and helped form the BJP government too had a meeting in Bengaluru, said BJP sources.
They were unanimous that not only the 11 MLAs who won the election be made ministers but also A H Vishwanath and M T B Nagaraj who had unsuccessfully contested the assembly by-polls from Hunasuru and Hoskote on a BJP ticket.
Vishwanath, who was quite vocal on Sunday for dropping his name, was mellowed down on Monday after meeting Yediyurappa.
However, his insistence for getting a cabinet berth remained intact.
“I did not make any proposal before him and will not do it in future because he (Yediyurappa) knows what has to be done,” Vishwanath told reporters after meeting the Chief Minister.
When he was reminded of Yediyurappa’s statement that there were legal complications in making him a minister, Vishwanath said, “This government has legal experts and the advocate general. They will speak.”
Amid speculations that Athani MLA Mahesh Kumathalli may not get a cabinet berth in the reshuffle, the defected MLAs led by Gokak BJP MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi, had a meeting to decide their future strategy, said party sources.
Currently, there are 18 ministers, including the chief minister, in the cabinet, which has a sanctioned strength of 34. Sixteen berths are vacant.
The cabinet expansion exercise will be a delicate task for Yediyurappa as he has to ensure adequate representation for various castes and regions.
The ministry already has eight Lingayats, including Yediyurappa; three Vokkaligas; a Brahmin; three SCs, two OBCs and one ST.
Opposition parties have been critical of the BJP and Yediyurappa over the delay in the cabinet expansion, alleging he is weak and his administration has collapsed.
Reacting to the cabinet expansion, former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah quipped, “A drama is taking place. Let it happen on February 6. Afterward, we will see what all happens.”
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