Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Monday allotted portfolios to 10 ministers who had joined the cabinet last week, largely fulfilling his government’s promise of rewarding those who had helped the BJP grapple its way back to power in the state.
All the 10 politicians – who had joined the BJP from the Congress and the Janata Dal Secular – were part of the previous coalition under HD Kumaraswamy before they withdrew their support and caused its collapse last July.
BS Yediyurappa had openly acknowledged the role played by the MLAs in helping the BJP form the government in the state, but their promised reward of cabinet berths took a long time coming.
Former Speaker Ramesh Kumar had disqualified the 10 rebels, prohibiting them from contesting any election until the end of the current assembly’s term in 2023. After the Supreme Court cleared the path for them, 16 of the 17 disqualified MLAs joined the BJP and 13 were given BJP tickets to contest the bypolls to their former seats. As many as 11 won, and only one of them – Mahesh Kumathahalli – has not been inducted into the cabinet.
Ramesh Jarkiholi, who had spearheaded the MLA rebellion, has been given water resources — a portfolio earlier handled by Congress leader DK Shivakumar. It was reportedly his displeasure over DK Shivakumar getting involved in his home district of Belagavi in north Karnataka that sparked the exodus of coalition MLAs last year. Ramesh Jarkiholi was said to be keen on this ministry.
The other portfolios did not seem very controversial. While Dr K Sudhakar was given medical education, the urban development ministry was allotted to Byrathi Basavaraj; forests to BC Patil; co-operation to ST Somashekhar; food and civil supplies to Anand B Singh; labour to Shivram Hebbar; horticulture and municipal administration to Narayana Gowda; textiles to Shrimant Patil; and small scale industries to K Gopalaiah . The BJP has kept the most powerful ministries of home, power and revenue for its own.
Dr K Sudhakar, however, told NDTV that his new ministry will keep him away from the common man. “Any minister can’t be a chooser. It is at the pure discretion of the Chief Minister to select the minister and alloy portfolios. So I can’t say satisfied or dissatisfied. I have to fulfil my task as medical education minister. The Chief Minister probably thought I would do a good job with this because I am a medical graduate,” he said.
The former Congress MLA admitted that his colleagues may be feeling dissatisfied. “They think I should have got a ministry with a political connect, so I could work for the common man,” he said.