BENGALURU: The cabinet expansion exercise is never without heartburn and surprises and Wednesday was no exception. Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa inducted seven new ministers while Excise Minister H Nagesh was dropped from the cabinet. In a surprising development, MLA N Muniratna failed to make it to the cabinet despite an assurance from the CM himself that he will get a ministerial berth.
In the much-awaited rejig, the CM inducted MLCs M T B Nagaraj, R Shankar and C P Yogeshwar along with MLAs Umesh Katti, S Angara, Murugesh Nirani and Aravind Limbavali into the cabinet. Late on Wednesday, the new ministers were allotted offices at Vidhana Soudha. Expectedly, disgruntlement among those legislators who failed to make it, came to the fore.
Of the seven new ministers, except six-time MLA Angara, all of them had served as ministers earlier in various governments. While the portfolios for the new ministers are likely to be allocated soon, Nagesh, who was dropped from the cabinet, has been appointed as chairman of the Ambedkar Development Corporation with cabinet rank.
With his resignation, CM has kept one berth vacant in the 34-member cabinet. “Let us work together for the state’s development and to meet the expectations of the people,” the CM said while congratulating the new ministers. While experienced leaders like Katti, an eight-time MLA, and former ministers Nirani and Limbavali joined the cabinet, the CM came under fire from his own party legislators over the lack of representation in the cabinet for many districts as it has turned out to be heavily Bengaluruand Belagavi-centric.
Discontent out in the open
Out of 33 ministers, eight are from Bengaluru and five are from Belagavi. Though it is likely to help BJP in the upcoming Belagavi LS bypoll and the BBMP elections, as many as 13 districts have remained unrepresented in the cabinet. Many legislators have expressed their displeasure and some have decided to take up the matter with the central leaders. BJP MLA from Mysuru, S A Ramdas, termed it as “injustice to Old Mysuru region” and Karkala MLA Sunil Kumar said he does not believe in blackmail tactics to become a minister.
Many even questioned the need to make MLCs ministers while ignoring the MLAs.
Party national general secretary in charge of Karnataka, Arun Singh, told reporters that the CM will speak to the disgruntled MLAs in the coming days. “Every MLA in the BJP is capable of becoming a minister, but there are only limited berths,” he reasoned.Party sources said some disgruntled MLAs are planning to meet Amit Shah on January 16. The sources also said that the CM and the party leaders will take all its legislators, including Muniratna, into confidence.
“Muniratna’s court case is expected to be cleared in the next six to eight weeks. After that, he will be inducted in the cabinet. This is why Nagesh was told to resign so that one berth remains vacant. The party high command has agreed to it,’’ a senior BJP leader said. The case registered against him in 2018 pertained to alleged fake voter ID cards found in large numbers in properties belonging to him. The case is now before the Supreme Court, which is the reason for the party’s central leadership not clearing his name, the leader said.
Sources said the new ministers are likely to be given portfolios that are with the CM, besides additional portfolios that are with some ministers. After C T Ravi’s resignation, three portfolios — Kannada and Culture, Youth and Sports Service and Tourism — are to be re-allotted. Deputy CM Dr CN shwathnarayan has Higher Education, IT/BT and Skill Development; Dr K Sudhakar has Health and Medical Education portfolios; Kota Srinivas Poojari has Endowment and Fisheries; Narayana Gowda has Municipal Administration along with Horticulture and Sericulture. Sources said the CM may keep Bengaluru Development, Finance, Intelligence, while the remaining ones are likely to be allotted to the new ministers.