Cabinet buzz echoes in Delhi
Bengaluru Amid growing speculations over cabinet expansion in the newly formed government in Karnataka, chief minister Basavaraj Bommai on Friday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah and other senior leaders in the union government. “I have spoken to our national president JP Nadda on flood and Covid and also told him that cabinet expansion should be done at the earliest,” Bommai said, adding that Nadda assured to finalise the process soon.
The chief minister said that he would like to have a ‘creative cabinet’ that would comprise leaders who are ‘experienced’ and have a ‘new mindset’. Bommai said he is confident that of getting a ‘green signal’ within a week and that there is a possibility he would have to visit the national capital once again. The CM, however, said that he did not discuss any names yet with the national leaders.
Expanding the ministry will be the first big challenge before Bommai as he will have to navigate through the cabinet formation exercise by maintaining balance between factions within the ruling BJP. There are several aspirants among the party old guard, and legislators who had joined the BJP after quitting the Congress-JD(S) coalition in 2019.
Apart from cabinet expansion, the chief minister also apprised the leaders of the flood situation in the state and sought some relief from the Centre. He also discussed the state’s deteriorating financial condition.
The southern state has been at the receiving end of nature’s fury as floods ravaged the coastal districts of Karnataka, dealing a double whammy to the population who have had more than a year of mounting losses due to Covid-19 pandemic-induced lockdown.
“This is a testing time for you, you have to rise to the occasion,” Bommai said, quoting what Amit Shah told him on Friday.
Bommai said that he spent around 35-45 minutes with the Prime Minister who, the former said, gave him a lot of guidance.
“JP Nadda said that along with politics, you have to build the party and make coordinated efforts in facing upcoming challenges and elections like local body, taluk and byelections,” Bommai said.
The chief minister said that he also discussed contentious projects like Mekedatu, Upper Krishna, Upper Bhadra, Mahadayi and even Yettinahole with the central leadership and sought their cooperation for the same.
Bommai said that he would like to bring in some changes to make the administration efficient so that programmes and schemes would reach the sections it is intended for.
The CM also said that in the long term, he would like to improve the per-capita income of farmers, women, scheduled caste, scheduled tribes and other backward classes who account for more than 55% of the state’s population.
“If their income increases, it would mean that the state’s economy is better and we will make a special programme for this,” he added.
Lashing out at the state BJP government, former chief minister and the Congress party’s leader of the opposition Siddaramaiah on Friday said that legislators of the BJP are busy trying to get cabinet berths than protecting the calamity-stricken population.
“Corona and the floods have put the people of the state in despair and instead of resolving their problems and standing with them, BJP leaders are sitting in Delhi aspiring for power and position,” Siddaramaiah said, adding that all legislators are “lobbying” for ministerial berths.
He even called Bommai a “rubber stamp”, in reply to which the CM said that the “stamp” of his government would be that of the BJP, the prime minister, Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and of Yediyurappa which would be towards better governance.
Bommai said that Siddaramaiah’s administration was “drowned in corruption” and said that the new government will ensure speedy and efficient delivery of services to bring down corruption. The statements come at a time when several BJP legislators have been accused of corruption, sex-scandals and even running a parallel administration in the previous government.
Bommai is scheduled to meet union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday before returning to Bengaluru.