10 rebels get ministerial berths in Karnataka cabinet expansion

Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa keeps promises to rebel JD(S), Congress MLAs despite discontent among party members

BS Yediyurappa, Chief Minister, Karnataka cabinet expansion
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa with the newly-inducted ministers. Photo: Twitter

After days of dilly-dallying, the BS Yediyurappa-led BJP government on Thursday (February 5) expanded his cabinet, inducting 10 MLAs amid discontent from senior leaders.

They are all among the 17 rebel MLAs who defected from the Congress and the JD(S) last year.

The MLAs who were disqualified last year, subsequently joined the BJP and won the bypolls in December. They waited for nearly two months to get the ministerial berths.

The new ministers sworn in are ST Somashekar, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Anand Singh, BC Patil, Byrati Basavaraj, K Gopalaiah, K Sudhakar, Shivaram Hebbar, Narayana Gowda and Shrimanth Patil.

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Only Mahesh Kumathalli, a former Congress MLA who won from Athani constituency in Belagavi was not made a minister.

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Yediyurappa had in the past promised to make the rebel MLAs ministers and had lauded them for sacrificing their posts in the previous coalition government.

Party sources cited that since the deputy chief minister Laxman Savadi and Kumathalli hailed from the same region and fought against each other, the latter was not made a minister. Savadi lost to Kumathalli in the 2018 Assembly election.

Savadi, who’s not an elected member should be part of either of the Legislative Assembly or the Legislative Council before February 20 if he were to continue in office. He has now filed for the Legislative Council post and is likely to be elected unopposed as the opposition parties are not fielding candidates against him.

Kumathalli, though expressed discontent, told reporters that he would talk to Yediyurappa and take a decision. However, he did not wish to take any adverse decision in a hurry. Meanwhile the chief minister has assured him a bigger role in party affairs.

All is not well for the BJP

In the first cabinet expansion last August, 18 ministers including the chief minister took oath. While 16 ministerial berths remained vacant, only 10 were filled now as senior BJP created trouble for Yediyurappa in the last moment.

Independent MLA R Shankar, and two other rebels MTB Nagaraj, H Vishwanath who had lost in the bypoll in December are likely to be inducted in June.

Until Sunday (February 2), the chief minister indicated that the 13 people would be inducted into the ministry. However, with trouble brewing within the party, the chief minister delayed inducting three others —Umesh Katti, Arvind Limbavali and C P Yogeshwar.

Yogeshwara who hails from Channapatna was once DK Shivakumar’s protégé. He would be a good bet for the BJP to gain traction in the region dominated by Vokkaligas led by Congress and JDS leaders.

Between 2009 and 2017, Yogeshwar had shifted parties five times from the Congress to the BJP and then to the Samajwadi Party, and then back in Congress, before finally joining the BJP in 2017.

While Yogeshwara, is currently not an MLA, the party wanted to reward him for his efforts in accosting Congress and JDS MLAs to jump ships. However, if a former MLA is to be made a minister, then several party workers questioned why not make Nagaraj and Vishwanath who lost in the recent bypolls.

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With eight-time MLA Umesh Katti missing in the list, probably because there are too many ministers from Belagavi, the chief minister assured to meet the high command again and get approval to make him a minister.

“”He (Katti) will certainly be made a minister,” Yediyurappa assured after the cabinet expansion.

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