Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has been under pressure to create two more Deputy Chief Minister posts to accommodate rebel-turned-BJP MLAs.

Sriramulu lobbies for Karnataka Deputy CM post BSY in a quandary
news Politics Monday, January 06, 2020 - 18:21

Karnataka Health Minister B Sriramulu’s visit to New Delhi on January 3 set off speculation that he was lobbying for the Deputy Chief Minister’s (DCM) post. 

Since 12 of the rebels won the bye-elections held in December 2019, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has been under pressure to create two more DCM posts and accommodate the MLA from Gokak, Ramesh Jarkiholi, and another leader. BJP sources say that Sriramulu has been lobbying intensively for this fifth DCM post. 

Read: Rebel MLAs vs BJP loyalists: Karnataka CM Yediyurappa in a fix over cabinet expansion

Karnataka currently has three Deputy Chief Ministers and they each belong to a different community -CN Ashwath Narayan, a Vokkaliga is MLA from Malleshwaram and is also the Minister for Information Technology and Biotechnology (IT&BT), Govind Karjol, a  Dalit is MLA for Mudhol and the Minister in the Public works Department and Laxman Savadi, a Lingayat, holds the Transport Ministry. Sriramulu, who was Deputy Chief Minister for two days post the 2018 Assembly Elections, was overlooked when Yediyurappa returned as CM last year. 

Sriramulu’sValmiki Nayak community are dominant in the Hyderabad-Karnataka and Bombay-Karnataka region. Sources close to Sriramulu say that he has been building a strong voter base in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region, which makes him a formidable candidate for the Deputy Chief Minister's post. "Sriramulu wants to convince the High Command that he should be taken seriously. His work for the community is huge. If he separates from the party and contests independently by taking a few of his close associates with him, he can become the kingmaker in the state. So far the JD(S) held the power by being the party that could swing a majority to form a government. In the next three years, Sriramulu will be able to achieve that if the party does not reward him for his efforts," the source said. 

“There are many sub sects of the Valmiki Nayaka community. Their mobilisation is what Sriramulu has been working for. And he has succeeded. If this community unites, it can become a major vote bank in Karnataka," the source added. 

Sriramulu is also credited for swaying the votes of the community towards the BJP in the 2018 Assembly Elections and during Lok Sabha as he has emerged as a formidable leader of the community. 

K Ramalingappa, BJP leader from Ballari, says Sriramulu has done a lot for the region. “There’s no two ways about it. Sriramulu is the most deserving candidate for the DCM post. We are fully convinced that he will get the post.” 

Read: Can the BJP get away with denying Sriramulu a Deputy CM post in Karnataka?

Sriramulu’s opponent, Ramesh Jarkiholi, MLA from Gokak who also belongs to the same community, is said to have spearheaded the rebellion against the Congress-JD(S) coalition in 2019, which led to its fall. The BJP is believed to have promised Ramesh Jarkiholi the DCM post, which would mean that Sriramulu would lose out on his chance as the party is reluctant to appoint two DCMs from the same Valmiki Nayak community. 

The other person who is in the running for the post of DCM is Umesh Katti, who is a veteran BJP leader, and has been vying for the post of DCM for months now. 

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