Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Friday (August 7) allocated portfolios to 29 ministers in his new cabinet. The new CM has kept the key portfolios of finance, Bengaluru development and cabinet affairs. His trusted aides in the BJP have secured prime berths as well.
A government notification said Sunil Kumar has been given the Energy and Power portfolio. BC Nagesh, who has become minister for the first time, has been allocated primary education, while Aaraga Jnanendra has been given the home department.
The lone woman minister in the cabinet – Shahsikala Jolle – has been given Muzrai, Haj, and Wakf portfolios. The Women & Child Welfare Department that she previously held has been taken away from her perhaps owing to allegations of corruption in an eggs procurement tender that is pending an inquiry.
Also read: Can turncoats be turned away? Bommai caught in a dilemma
Former Deputy Chief Minister Govind Karjol has been reassigned portfolio of Major and Medium Irrigation while KS Eshwarappa and R Ashok will continue to hold the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj and Revenue portfolios respectively. While V Somanna will retain the Housing portfolio, B Sriramulu has been given charge of Transport along with the newly created ST Welfare Department.
Murugesh Nirani, who lost out the Chief Minister’s race, has been given the coveted Large and Medium Scale industries portfolio. Nirani is said to have lobbied hard for the portfolio. Former Deputy Chief Minister DR CN Ashwathnarayana will retain his Higher Education, IT & BT, Science and Technology & Skill development portfolio while Umesh Katti has been given Food and Civil Supplies and Forest portfolio.
A Angara has been given Fisheries and in-land Transport and Ports portfolio while JC Madhuswamy has been allowed to retain Minor Irrigation portfolio along with the additional charge of Law and parliamentary affairs. CC Patil has got the heavyweight Public Works Department and Anand Singh will continue with Ecology, Environment, and Tourism portfolio.
Also read: Karnataka seals itself, more COVID curbs likely
Kota Srinivas Poojari’s portfolio has been revised with Social welfare and Backward classes welfare. Prabhu Chauhan will also continue to hold Animal Husbandry portfolio. Shivaram Hebbar, ST Somashekhar, BC Patil, Byrati BA Basavaraj, K Sudhakar — all newcomers to BJP after they quit the JDS-Congress coalition in 2019 — will retain their former portfolios of Labour, Cooperation, Urband Development, Health and medical education respectively. K Gopalaiah has been given the Excise portfolio.
Bommai took oath as the new Chief Minister of Karnataka on July 28. The 61-year-old leader was elected by the Karnataka BJP legislature party as its new leader to succeed outgoing Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa.
A week after taking over, Bommai on August 4 expanded his new cabinet by inducting 29 ministers in an exercise seen as the first challenge before the new Chief Minister. The CM mostly retained the old faces.
Bommai, a Lingayat from north Karnataka, is a close confidante of Yediyurappa. Son of former Chief Minister, late S R Bommai, he was Minister for Home Affairs, Law, Parliamentary Affairs and Legislature in Yediyurappa’s council of ministers.
The elevation of Bommai, who joined the BJP only 13 years ago, has caused a lot of heartburn among BJP loyalists and the Sangh leaders. Seventeen MLAs from the Congress and JD(S) had resigned and brought down the previous JD(S)–Congress government in 2019. Twelve of them were made ministers in BS Yediyurappa’s cabinet.
Apart from having to balance the caste equation, Bommai also has to placate senior leaders like Jagadish Shettar (former chief minister), R Ashoka and KS Eshwarappa (former deputy chief ministers). MLAs like Govind Karjol, Murugesh Nirani, V Somanna are in the race for ministerial posts.