Six months after the Congress-JD(S) coalition came to power in the state of Karnataka, the much-awaited Cabinet expansion finally took place on Saturday.
The Congress has decided to induct six more members into the Cabinet. This time around, leaders from North Karnataka were given preference. The decision comes in the wake of protests from various North Karnataka groups demanding adequate representation in the Cabinet for the people in the region.
The party has finalised Kundagol MLA CS Shivalli, Hosakote MLA MTB Nagaraju, Yemkanmardi MLA Satish Jarkiholi, Sandur MLA E Tukaram, Babaleshwar MLA MB Patil, Harappanahalli MLA PT Parameshwar Naik, Mudhol MLA RB Thimmapur and Bidar MLA Rahim Khan to be inducted into the Cabinet. The portfolios, however, have not yet been announced.
By choosing these leaders, the Congress has managed to quell the internal rebellion and also ensure that the northern part of the state has adequate representation.
After the coalition announced its first list of ministers in June this year, the Congress withheld six ministerial berths while the JD(S) had reserved one spot. On Saturday, the Congress decided to drop two ministers in the existing Cabinet to make way for dissenting leaders.
The party pulled the plug on Municipalities Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi and Environment Minister R Shankar. Ramesh Jarkiholi is likely to be replaced by his brother Satish.
The new ministers will be sworn in at Raj Bhavan on Saturday at 5.20 pm, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy told the media.
‚ÄúRamesh Jarkiholi has been speaking to BJP leaders despite many leaders requesting him to stay put. Satish Jarkiholi, who had decided to turn away from the Congress, was given the berth to ensure that he does not cause more problems for the party ahead of the Lok Sabha elections,‚ÄĚ a Congress leader said.
Sources in the party say that several senior leaders, who were expecting ministerial portfolios, were sidelined. Former Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy was kept out of the Cabinet. His daughter - Jayanagar MLA Sowmya Reddy has expressed disappointment. Similarly, SK Patil, a senior leader, was also sidelined. He was, however, made the chief of the party's campaign committee. The position was earlier held by DK Shivakumar.
The new ministers-to-be
Three-time MLA of the Kundgol constituency, CS Shivalli and a member of the Kuruba community. A long time aspirant of a ministerial berth in the Karnataka Cabinet, CS Shivalli had been vocal about his disappointment with the party when the first list of cabinet ministers was announced on June 8. Sources say that Shivalli was courted by the BJP when he rebelled against the party. Soon after, Shivalli had told the media that he was confident of bagging a ministerial berth.
One of the richest politicians in Karnataka, four-time Hosakote MLA and Congress heavyweight MTB Nagaraju was also one of the rebels, who criticised the Congress for not giving him a ministerial portfolio.
Also a member of the Kuruba community and a close associate of former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, MTB Nagaraju was double disappointed when he was not picked as a minister in June. This was because Nagaraju was not given a portfolio in the Siddaramaiah cabinet either and the legislator was also approached by the BJP. ‚ÄúHe was ready to jump ship,‚ÄĚ a Congress leader said. Nagaraju had openly expressed his disappointment by stating, ‚ÄúI won the Hosakote seat not because of Congress but because of the people. I have worked so hard for the party for 35 years and they left me in the lurch,‚ÄĚ Nagaraju had told the media earlier in August.
Sources in the party say that Water Resource Minister DK Shivakumar and Law Minister Krishna Byre Gowda batted for Nagaraju‚Äôs berth.
MLA from Sandur in Ballari, E Tukaram is a three-time MLA from the assembly segment and is considered a strongman in the region. When Satish and Ramesh Jarkiholi openly rebelled against the Congress, E Tukaram had backed Satish Jarkiholi.
‚ÄúHe is from the Valmiki Nayak community and felt sidelined when he did not get a portfolio. He began speaking about how the Congress is not giving importance to backward caste communities and had sidelined north Karnataka. DK Shivakumar wanted him in the Cabinet this time around,‚ÄĚ a Congress source said.
Congress strongman in North Karnataka and MLA of Babaleshwar ‚Äď MB Patil, a member of the Lingayat community was also kept out of the cabinet earlier in June.
Patil, who had spearheaded the movement for a separate Lingayat religion ahead of the Karnataka Assembly elections was sidelined after the results were announced. The reason ‚Äď the movement he spearheaded had backfired horribly. The Lingayat community voted against the Congress believing the party was out to divide the community‚Äôs unity. Patil was sidelined until the dust around the controversy settled. However, when MLAs in the Congress began dissenting, Patil too, had joined the bandwagon.
PT Parameshwar Nayak
A strongman from the Lambani community, PT Parameshwar Nayak, the Harappanahalli legislator, is considered a close aide of former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. He also served as the Labour Minister in the Siddaramaiah cabinet before being replaced by Santosh Lad. Parameshwar was dropped after his name surfaced in the controversial case of DySP Anupama Shenoy‚Äôs transfer. Anupama Shenoy had accused Parameshwar Nayak of interfering with her work. Nayak had resigned and the high command had accepted the decision.
A controversial figure in Karnataka politics, Satish Jarkiholi is the MLA of Yemkanmardi constituency in Belagavi district. An ardent supporter of former CM Siddaramaiah, Satish Jarkiholi had led the rebellion against the Congress party as he was not included in the cabinet earlier in June.
Satish Jarkiholi was benched pending good behaviour after the high drama surrounding resort politics soon after election results were announced. Congress insiders say that Satish Jarkiholi was willing to join the BJP and had lined up several other Congress leaders too. However, this was quashed by DK Shivakumar and KJ George, who managed to keep the flock intact ahead of the trust vote in May this year. Satish was deliberately benched when the ministers were selected for the first round of cabinet expansion in June.
MLA of Mudhol in Bagalkot district, RB Thimmapur has now bagged a ministerial berth. Thimmapur was chosen purely because he is from North Karnataka and a leader of the Madiga community, Congress insiders say.
‚ÄúThe party has quelled the rebellion by giving ministerial berths to those who were dissenting. It also wisely picked leaders from the Kuruba, Valmiki Nayak, Madiga and minority communities in order to get the caste equation right. Hence Thimmapur was chosen,‚ÄĚ a Congress leader said.
A three-time MLA of Bidar North constituency, Rahim Khan was chosen in order to ensure that the cabinet had representatives from the northernmost part of the state.
‚ÄúThere was pressure to include someone from the Muslim community. Roshan Baig was the first choice but there was a need to overturn the BJP‚Äôs accusations that the government was only concerned about ‚ÄėHassan and Holenarsipura‚Äô. Hence it was decided that Rahim Khan would be inducted,‚ÄĚ the Congress source added.