The Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Thursday (February 5) rewarded the 10 defectors, who helped the BJP bring down the Congress-JDS coalition and come to power, with Cabinet berths.
The then disqualified Congress-JDS MLAs who had shifted loyalty to the BJP and won the December by-elections were sworn-in at a simple ceremony at Raj Bhavan with the Governor Vajubhai Vala administering the oath of office and secrecy.
The ten are ST Somashekar (Yeshwantpur constituency), Ramesh Jarkiholi (Gokak), Anand Singh (Vijayanagar), K Sudhakar (Chickballapur), Byrathi Basavaraj (KR Puram), A Shivaram Hebbar (Yellapur), BC Patil (Hirekerur), K Gopalaiah (Mahalakshmi Layout), KC Narayana Gowda (KR Pet) and Shrimant Balasaheb Patil (Kagwad).
The much-awaited expansion takes the strength of the Cabinet to 28, with six vacancies now. In the first expansion last August, 17 Ministers were inducted.
The latest exercise wasn’t without a twist. Yediyurappa had announced on Sunday that 13 aspirants, including the ten who were sworn-in on Thursday and three BJP old-timers, would be inducted. The three who were expected to get Cabinet berth were Umesh Katti, Arvind Limbavali and C P Yogeshwar.
A section of the BJP had opposed making Yogeshwar a Minister, pointing out that he had lost Assembly elections and not a member of either House.
Late on Wednesday, Yediyurappa said induction of BJP old-timers had been put off following directions from the party’s central leadership. The decision to take none of the “native” BJP leaders into the Cabinet in the current round came after intense lobbying from several aspirants which threatened to go out of hand at one stage, party sources said.
The 10 newly inducted Ministers were among the then 16 Congress-JDS MLAs who brought down the coalition government headed by H D Kumaraswamy. Among these disqualified MLAs, 13 had contested the by-polls in December and 11 had won.
The one who had been left out in the Cabinet expansion is Athani MLA Mahesh Kumathalli who has been promised by the Chief Minister “some other big responsibility”.