Karnataka Cabinet expansion: In Yediyurappa’s cabinet sealed at midnight, Lingayats get pride of place
Unending wait, frantic phone calls and midnight invites preceded the announcement of the names of 17 legislators who were inducted into the Karnataka Cabinet during the much-awaited expansion on Tuesday.
After hectic late night consultations, the Bharatiya Janata Party revealed that it would induct 17 persons into the state Cabinet to join chief minister BS Yediyurappa, who was the only member of the state Cabinet for nearly a month.
The list of ministers, approved by party president Amit Shah, took time reaching Bengaluru and caused some unnerving moments for MLAs, who found it hard to second guess the central leadership. Two MLAs confirmed that they received the call from the chief minister’s office around midnight informing them that they were to be inducted into the Cabinet.
The list of inductees includes 15 MLAs and one MLC, Kota Srinivas Poojari, and one unelected member Laxman Savadi. Among the MLAs, former chief minister Jagadish Shettar, who was in the saddle between 2012 and 2013, is to be inducted as a Cabinet minister. Former deputy chief ministers R Ashok and KS Eshwarappa make the cut as well.
Independent MLA H Nagesh has also been included, becoming a minister for the second time in a little over two months. He was made a minister by the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition in June, days before he withdrew support to that government in the lead up to its collapse.
Elsewhere, the surprise inclusion of CT Ravi, who had made it clear to the party that he would prefer the vacant BJP state president position, indicates that Arvind Limbavali, who was in close touch with the rebels who brought down the coalition government, might be in pole position to take up the president post that was held by Yediyurappa till recently.
The Cabinet composition also indicated that the BJP was willing to reward the Lingayat community, which supports the BJP to a large extent, as it had eight Lingayats including Yediyurappa. The other dominant community, Vokkaligas, received three posts with CN Ashwath Narayan – who was also in touch with the rebels – joining Ashok and Ravi.
There was one Brahmin in veteran S Suresh Kumar, two OBCs in Poojary and Eshwarappa, one ST in B Sreeramulu and three from the SC communities, including Independent MLA Nagesh, and one woman legislator in Shashikala Jolle.
Though some of Yediyurappa’s close aides like Shettar, Govind Karjol, JC Madhuswami and Basavaraj Bommai were included, others like Umesh Katti, the Lingayat leader from Belagavi district, did not make the cut.
The list caused some heartburn among some with party MLA Anand Mamani taking to twitter saying that since he came from the dominant Panchamasali sub-caste among Lingayats he should have been given a ministerial berth. “I have created a record in my constituency by winning thrice in consecutively, and this is because I am a ministerial berth aspirant,” he said.
The Cabinet list was also thin on representation of the coastal regions, which the BJP nearly swept and which are its traditional strongholds. Only MLC Poojary made the cut from the region, even though the BJP won 16 of the 19 seats in the three districts of Uttara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada and Udupi in the 2018 assembly elections.