The 10 turncoats MLAs of Congress and JD(S), who defected to the BJP last year, took oath as ministers at the Raj Bhavan on Thursday. Karnataka Governor Vaju Bhai Vala administered the oaths to the 10 MLAs, who have been made ministers of BS Yediyurappaâs cabinet.
The 10 new ministers include Ramesh Jarkiholi (Gokak), Byrathi Basavaraj (KR Puram), BC Patil (Hirekerur), ST Somashekhar (Yeshwantpur), Anand B Singh (Vijayanagar), Shivram Hebbar (Yellapur), K Sudhakar (Chikkaballapur), Narayana Gowda (Krishnarajapet) Shrimant Patil (Kagwad) and K Gopalaiah (Mahalakshmi Layout).
After a huge political drama that unfolded over the last three weeks, the ministers were finally sworn in.
Next hurdle, portfolio allocation
According to some BJP insiders, the next hurdle is the portfolio allocation. While 10 ministers were inducted in the cabinet, former Congress rebel Mahesh Kumatahalli has been left out.
Sources said that Ramesh Jarkiholi, who kick-started the rebellion in the Congress-JD(S) coalition, has demanded the Water Resources portfolio. Jarkiholi's bitter rivalry with Congress heavyweight DK Shivakumar has led him to demand the portfolio, BJP insiders said.
During the Congress-JD(S) coalition's regime, Shivakumar was the Water Resources Minister, and now, Jarkiholi is vying for the same post. Jarkiholi started the rebellion in the Congress due to his rivalry with DK Shivakumar. Jarkiholi, who is a strongman, had spoken openly against Shivakumar and accused him of trying to control the party in Belagavi, which has been Jarkiholi's fiefdom.
BJP insiders also said that Jarkiholi, Byrathi Basavaraj, ST Somashekar, Narayana Gowda, K Sudhakar and BC Patil would be handed out some of the important portfolios as a âreward for their defectionsâ.
While Byrathi Basavaraj, ST Somashekar and MTB Nagaraj are vying for the Bengaluru Development Ministry, this portfolio would be allocated only after the state Legislative Council elections slated to take place in July. Nagaraj is expected to be made an MLC then. Sudhakar is believed to have demanded the Medical Education portfolio, while Narayana Gowda is vying for the Horticulture or Agriculture ministry, sources said.
In July 2019, 17 Congress and JD(S) MLAs had resigned from their posts, thereby bringing down the coalition government. It has taken over six months for the former rebels to finally achieve their goal: bagging cabinet berths.
After the bye-polls were held on December 5, 2019, 11 of the turncoats became MLAs. However, Mahesh Kumatahalli, the MLA from Athani, was kept out of the cabinet. BJP sources said that Kumatahalli was not made a minister as he is from the same constituency as Deputy CM Laxman Savadi, the man who was caught watching porn in the Assembly. Another reason, sources cited, was that his induction would make the cabinet heavy with leaders from Belagavi district alone.
BJP sources had told TNM that Mahesh Kumatahalli would be offered a plum post as the director of a state-run corporation.
Meanwhile, rebellion is brewing within the BJP as party loyalists, who were also aspiring for ministerial berths, do not want the turncoats to get plum posts. "A decision will be made soon but some of the rebels will get important ministries as they were promised," a source close to Yediyurappa told TNM.