Nirmala among four from Karnataka in Modi’s cabinet

The latest worries over India’s fiscal health emerged after Sitharaman announced the largest ever cut in corporate tax rates on Friday during market hours. The headline corporate tax rate was brought down from 30% to 22% with effective tax rate settling at 25.2% from 34.9% earlier. Photo: PTI
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had set the fiscal deficit target of 3.5% when she presented the Budget for the current financial year.

Three newly-elected Members of Parliament from Karnataka, along with Nirmala Sitharaman, the Rajya Sabha MP from the state, will be sworn in as ministers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new cabinet.

Suresh Angadi (a lingayat), Sadananda Gowda (a vokkaliga), and Pralhad Joshi (a brahmin) are likely to represent Karnataka. While it is not clear what portfolios they may hold, Gowda confirmed their selection through Twitter.

Speaking to The Federal, Gowda, said that he was happy to be in Modi’s cabinet again and expressed that the selection of candidates from Karnataka was more on regional lines than on caste equation.

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“The BJP leadership chose MPs from south, coastal, central and north Karnataka. It shows the party wants to take everyone into confidence and we are happy about it,” Gowda said.

Sitharaman, an articulate and influential leader, previously held important portfolios like Defence Minister and Minister of State for Commerce. Her term as a Rajya Sabha MP ends in June 2022. Gowda, 66, the MP from Bangalore North, who originally hails from coastal Karnataka, has held portfolios like Minister of Law and Justice, Minister of Statistics and Programme Implementation, and Railway Minister.

Joshi and Angadi will be the new additions. Both hail from North Karnataka and it shows that the BJP is trying to give importance to the neglected region. The party gained dominance in North Karnataka in the recent past. As against 17 seats in 2014, BJP won 25 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka. It swept all the 12 seats in North Karnataka.

Apart from the North Karnataka connect, 56-year-old Joshi can be seen as a replacement for late Union Minister HN Ananth Kumar from Bengaluru. Joshi was among the many leaders who shot to prominence during the 1994 Idgah Maidan controversy. Joshi accompanied BJP leader Uma Bharti, attempted to hoist national flag at the Idgah Maidan, a Muslim prayer ground in Hubli, defying the prohibitory orders.

During the cabinet reshuffle in September 2017 in the previous term, Angadi, 63, expressed his discontent over non-appointment of a lingayat leader into the cabinet, despite the party heavily banking on the community for votes.

“Apart from me, there are many MPs from our region (North Karnataka). Whoever is capable let them be made a minister,” he had said. He had indirectly pointed fingers at Yeddyurappa stating that the BJP state leadership should have pushed for equal participation representing various regions. Angadi defeated Congress’ VS Sadhunavar by 3,91,304 votes in Belgaum.

Meanwhile, the Uttara Kannada MP Ananth Kumar Hedge, who was previously the Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, and the senior most among all MPs in Karnataka, is unlikely to be inducted again. BJP’s disciplinary committee issued a show cause notice to Hegde following his remark supporting Sadhvi Pragya’s controversial statement on Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse.

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