29-member Karnataka cabinet sworn in
The BJP gets its first government in south India as a 30-member ministry headed by BS Yeddyurappa takes office in Karnataka, reports BR Srikanth.india Updated: May 31, 2008 01:33 IST
The BJP’s poster boy south of the Vindhyas, B.S. Yeddyurappa, leads a 29-member cabinet that assumed office amid pujas and celebrations by party workers across Karnataka on Friday. “I swear in the name of the farmer and God,” read Yeddyurappa’s oath as Governor Rameshwar Thakur conducted the swearing-in ceremony on the steps of the Vidhan Soudha, the state secretariat.
The powerful mining lobby of Bellary dominated the ministry with the Reddy brothers — G. Karunakara and G. Janardhan Reddy — and their lieutenant B. Sriramalu rewarded with places in the cabinet. While BJP MP Karunakara (Bellary) won from Harapanahalli in the neighbouring Davanagere district, Sriramalu was elected from Bellary (ST) constituency. Janardhan, who hurled the Rs 150-crore bribe charge against former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and members of his cabinet, is a member of the legislative council.
The party also accommodated five of the six Independents who helped it achieve a simple majority in the 224-member house — T. Shivaraj, Goolihatti Shekar, Venkataramanappa, Narendraswamy and T. Sudhakar.
Yeddyurappa kept his word about including a member from a minority community in his ministry with the induction of Dr Mumtaz Ali Khan, vice-president of the state unit of BJP. The lone woman member is Shobha Karandlage, who was elected from Yashwantpur in Bangalore city. First-time MLA Basavaraj Bommai, son of late Janata Dal leader and former chief minister S.R. Bommai made it as well.
However, the decision to keep senior leader Jagadish Shettar out of the cabinet sparked protests and disruption of traffic in Hubli-Dharwad. Shettar’s supporters blocked traffic in the state capital in the evening. Bangalore was awash with flags and posters as BJP’s top leaders — Rajnath Singh and L.K. Advani, Narendra Modi, Prakash Singh Badal and George Fernandes — descended to witness the ceremony. Soon after chairing the first meeting of his cabinet, Yeddyurappa told newspersons: “We will implement all promises made in our manifesto in phases. Farmers, weavers and fishermen will get loans at three per cent rate of interest. We will try to supply power free to farmers owning pumpsets up to ten HP, with some conditions.”