BJP brass wants to keep Yediyurappa in check. His new cabinet is the proof
Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa knew right from the beginning that he wasn’t going to get a free run to select his team. So when he was in Delhi recently, he let it be known that it was to get the approval of the BJP brass for his cabinet expansion. He had been chief minister of Karnataka for a little less than a month, single-handedly playing the minister in-charge for every department in the state and it was high time to put a team in place to run the state.
That approval came around Monday midnight. It had been firmed up after several rounds of negotiation between Yediyurappa and the BJP leadership and was the best that Yediyurappa could have extracted from New Delhi.
And it is clear that he did have his say in the selection of lawmakers for his council of ministers, but certainly not his way. In the list of 17 ministers who were sworn-in on Tuesday morning, there are about half-a-dozen people such as Dr Ashwath Narayan CS and Chandrakantagouda Channappagouda Patil, who are close to the 76-year-old Lingayat strongman. Two of them swear by Yediyurappa.
But there are many others in Yediyurappa’s team who are known to be closer to his critics within the party than him. The move to induct them, a BJP leader suggested, was designed to introduce checks and balances in Karnataka government.
The BJP leader counted about half-a-dozen leaders in the Yediyurappa council of ministers who have a standing independent of Yediyurappa. Some of them; such as CT Ravi and KS Eshwarappa, are known baiters of the chief minister and can stand up to Yediyurappa if a need arises.
Watch: Karnataka CM Yediyurappa expands cabinet, 17 ministers inducted
Much of this cautious approach is being seen as a reflection of the Bharatiya Janata Party learning its lessons from its experience between 2008 and 2011. Yediyurappa had then managed to pack his council of ministers with his loyalists who mostly carried out his instructions, no questions asked.
It hadn’t been easy then to eject Yediyurappa either when he was embroiled in corruption cases. But after the BJP leader was indicted by the anti-corruption watchdog in a mining scandal, the party put its foot down. But Yediyurappa had become so powerful by then that the BJP leader was allowed to name his successor. His loyalist, DV Sadananda Gowda, won the election that was held.
The BJP lost the assembly elections held two years later, a defeat that is blamed in the BJP on Yediyurappa’s power play and the swirling controversies around him.