Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa’s efforts to expand his Cabinet to fill 16 vacancies has triggered severe lobbying from aspirants and complaints by a section of BJP legislators that some regions of the state are being overlooked.
Yediyurappa has announced he will induct 13 ministers on Thursday. Of these, 10 portfolios are earmarked for Congress and JD(S) rebels who helped BJP form the government last July, and subsequently won the bypolls for BJP, while three posts will go to BJP veterans, he has said.
Three posts are likely to remain vacant.
While there is a general acceptance in BJP on the decision to give 10 Cabinet berths to the new entrants — and fulfil a promise made while seeking their help to topple the then Congress-JD(S) government — a note of dissent has arisen in BJP over indications that C P Yogeshwara, who lost the 2018 Assembly polls on a BJP ticket from Channapatna is among the three BJP leaders likely to be inducted.
A group of BJP MLAs from the Hyderabad-Karnataka region (comprising districts in north-east bordering Telangana) met Yediyurappa and urged him to not create regional imbalances in the ministry by favoring leaders from certain regions and candidates who lost the polls.
Similar concerns have been expressed by MLAs from coastal Karnataka, where BJP swept 17 of 19 seats.
According to these BJP leaders, the proposed expansion will see induction only from regions such as Belagavi in Bombay-Karnataka (north-western districts) and Bengaluru in south Karnataka, as many rebels and BJP aspirants are from these regions.
Raju Gowda, BJP MLA from Shorapur in Yadgir —- who is aid to have played a key role in enticing the rebels to join BJP — said after
meeting Yediyurappa: “All of us, MLAs from Hyderabad-Karnataka region, met the CM and asked him to give representation to our region. Some regions are over-represented in the Cabinet. Our request is for representation for the regions of Hyderabad-Karnataka, coastal, and Mysuru-Karnataka.”
Gowda also opposed the plans to make Yogeshwara a minister. He said, “Yogeshwara lost the elections. His community (Vokkaligas) are already represented in the Cabinet. If you continue to give representation for the same regions how will our regions develop?”
The BJP is believed to be pushing the case for Yogeshwara’s induction to help gain foothold in rural Bengaluru, Ramanagara and Channapatna regions of south Karnataka.
Yogeshwara, a former actor and real estate businessman, was recently at the forefront of a campaign led by RSS leader Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat to stop installation of a giant Christ statue in Kanakapura region, where Congress’s D K Shivakumar enjoys massive popularity.
There has also been lobbying by two rebels who lost the bypolls on BJP ticket: M T B Nagaraj (former Congress MLA) and H Vishwanath (formerly JDS).
With terms of several Members of Legislative Council slated to end in June, Yediyurappa has reportedly assured rebels who lost the bypolls that they will be elected to the Upper House and subsequently be given ministerial berths.
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