Yediyurappa will not only have to keep some cabinet berths vacant for the disqualified MLAs, but will also have to do a juggling act when it comes to aspirants within the party.

Karnataka CM Yediyurappas challenge of forming a please all cabinet
news Politics Sunday, August 04, 2019 - 19:22

Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa will be carrying the aspirations of nearly 70 BJP legislators vying for a ministerial berth besides his own wish list for the 33-member cabinet  formation (excluding  himself), when he boards the flight to New Delhi  from Bengaluru on Monday evening.

After taking charge on July 26,Yediyurappa has been functioning as a one-man government inviting flak from the opposition parties Congress and JD(S) with North Karnataka in particular  Belagavi, Vijayapura, Raichur, Dharwad and Ballari districts facing heavy rains and flash floods. This prompted former Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah to take to Twitter saying, “The hurry which  Yediyurappa demonstrated in being sworn in as the Chief Minister is not being shown now in cabinet formation. People are reeling under floods, rains, drought, there is no administration. Is this democracy?''

BJP sources told TNM that Yediyurappa  was asked to wait till the Parliament session was over as the party's central leadrship comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister and BJP President Amit Shah wanted to put  the list of aspirants  under the microscope  before they give the nod. Yediyurappa is scheduled  to stay in the national capital on August 6 and 7 to get the names cleared and the new ministers  are likely to be sworn in on August 9, considered an auspicious day.

Sources say that Yediyurappa will not not be inducting a full cabinet. The first  instalment of oath-taking is expected to  be a 15 to 18 member ministry and the rest will be kept in reserve. According to a senior BJP MLA, who is also an aspirant, the berths are being kept  vacant to accommodate the  rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs who have been disqualified and have approached the Supreme Court challenging  former Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar's decision. This is said to be the thinking of the central leadership too as it wants to test the mood in the party to the new ministry once it is formed.

“This is our leader Modi's style of functioning. I had visited Gujarat as a minister in Yediyurappa's cabinet, when Modi was the state's CM. Everytime I went, there used to be at least a few  vacancies in Modi's cabinet and the reason I was told is  to meet political exigencies,” a former BJP minister said.

Former Deputy Chief Mnister R Ashoka had convened a meeting of the  disqualified MLAs at his residence  in Bengaluru on Sunday. Of the 17 former MLAs, eight attended and Ashoka is reported to have  assured them of the  party's support in their fight. “We have to take care of these former MLAs and  the vacancies are being kept to accommodate some of them as they helped us to form the  government,'' a source close to Ashoka  said. 

The headache for Yediyurappa will commence, when he sits down with the BJP's central leadership to finalise the  ministers’ list. He will have to do a tic-tac-toe as the aspirants list is north Karnataka top heavy, as 60 of the total 105 BJP MLAs are from this region.  While majority of them are Lingayats, at least six MLAs from Bengaluru are also seeking a berth.

He has to look into the interests of one former CM Jagadish Shettar (Lingayat) and two former Deputy CMs Ashoka (Vokkaliga) and K S Eshwarappa (Kuruba) besides B Sriramulu (Valmiki), JC Madhuswamy, MP Renukacharya,  Basavaraj Bommai and V Somanna (all Lingayats), who stood by Yediyurappa  in recent  weeks leading to  government  formation.

There is no clarity yet on the Deputy CM's post. Sources close to Yediyurappa said he was not in favour of having deputies as  it would lead to  parallel power centres. However, another section in the party was of the opinion that  the BJP high command will allow the 76-year-old CM have deputies to assist him. “The  BJP central leadership  has made an exception by giving Yediyurappa the CM's post  though he is past the stipulated  age. Due to his age  factor, he wil  be given at least two deputies---a Lingayat and Dalit--- to assist  him,” sources said.

Among the Vokkaligas, the jockeying  has  started between CT Ravi, who is being seen as a promising second line leader to take over the party's reins, CN Ashwathanarayan (who was put in charge of hosting the disqualified  MLAs in Mumbai), young Turk Preetam Gowda from  Hassan and Araga Jnanedra  from Yediyurappa's Shivamogga district and above all Ashoka.

Going by Modi's speech, which he made after becoming PM, that of taking the minorities along, a berth will be reserved  for a Muslim. The party has to look for a minority candidate. 

The aspirants list does not end with the MLAs. In the Legislative Council, the party has 18 members and among them Kota Srinivas Pujari and Ayanur Manjunath are contenders. While finalising the list, the central leadership cannot ignore  the women folk  as the party has three  MLAs Shashikala Jolle, Poornima Srinivas and  Roopali Santosh Naik and Tejeswini Gowda in the Upper House, who are all articulate.

Naheed Ataulla is a journalist who covered Karnataka  politics for over two decades and  is former Political Editor of The Times of India.


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