Almost two months after Dr G Parameshwara resigned as the Home Minister, the Karnataka Cabinet, on Wednesday, met to discuss who would head the state's Home portfolio.
The Karnataka cabinet is now mulling over three names, Minister for Environment and Forests, Ramanath Rai, Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy and Health Minister Ramesh Kumar.
Rai, who held talks with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, late on Tuesday night, has agreed to take up the Home portfolio, which many Congress heavyweights had refused in the past.
A source with knowledge about the meeting, said that Ramanath Rai may be chosen for the post as the party relies on him to handle the communal tension in coastal Karnataka.
â€śThere were communal tensions and killings in coastal Karnataka recently. Since Rai is the Dakshina Kannada district-in charge minister, it seemed apt to choose him for the Home portfolio. He has won several elections from Bantwal and has the peopleâ€™s support,â€ť the source added.
This is not the first time Ramanath Rai has held the Home portfolio. In the 1992 Veerappa Moily cabinet, Ramanath Rai was the Minister for Home and Prisons.
The BJP however has already opposed such a move. "Forest Minister Ramanath Rai has proved his prejudice against a very large segment of the society by ordering the District SP to arrest a leader of a socio cultural organisation. It looks like Rai does not have the elementary knowledge pertaining to arrest of people. The SC has clearly said that the decision whether to arrest a person or not solely rests with the investigating officer, "Said N Ravikumar of the BJP.
The BJP was referring to Ramanath Rai insisting on the arrest of RSS leader Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat during tensions in Dakshina Kannada recently.
â€śDuring the clashes in Dakshina Kannada, Ramanath Rai, the district in-charge Minister, was accused by Yeddyurappa and Shobha Karandlaje of inaction. Rai had also received flak for telling former Dakshina Kannada SP to arrest RSS leader Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat on false charges. If he is given the home portfolio, then the opposition will have one over the Congress government. Already the local media is spreading news about the backlash of such a decision,â€ť a source from Congress told TNM.
After Dr G Parameshwara resigned as the state Home Minister on June 1, the post was vacant and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah himself was handling the Home Ministry.
Following Parameshwaraâ€™s resignation, Congress heavyweights including Bengaluru Development Minister KJ George and Energy Minister DK Shivakumar were offered the Home portfolio.
Sources in the Congress said that these leaders shied away from the Home Ministry considering the responsibilities.
Who is Ramanath Rai?
Bellipady Ramanth Rai, who was born on March 8, 1952 to Bellipady Perne Narayana Rai and Girja Rai, worked extensively with the Karnataka Youth Congress between 1978 and 1984.
He contested from Bantwal constituency and won six out of seven polls. He first contested the elections in 1985.
In the 1999 SM Krishna cabinet, Ramanath Rai held the Fisheries portfolio along with being appointed as the Dakshina Kannada district-in-charge minister and the Karnataka Minister of State for Transport.
Rai, in his early days with the Youth Congress, also served as the President of the Primary Land Development Bank in Bantwal.
â€śThis is where he started off his career as a public servant. He is from an agricultural family and holds a Bachelorâ€™s degree is arts. He is known in the Congress to be a party loyalist and has the goodwill of the High Command. However, he is also known for non-performance. Ever since he has held the Environment and Forest portfolio, he has barely met the Ministryâ€™s goals. He is often seen sleeping in the Assembly. These may be several reasons for not appointing him,â€ť the source added.