Bommai repalcement
Bommai, who took over from Yediyurappa as Chief Minister, completed one year in office on July 28

Karnataka Cabinet rejig soon; Bommai likely to retain CM's chair

KS Eshwarappa, Ramesh Jarkiholi, along with some new faces are set to be inducted into the Bommai cabinet, which is likely to have four Deputy Chief Ministers

The BJP wants to keep its cadre in Karnataka happy. At the same time, it wants to bring in a significant change at the top in quick time to retain power in the state in the 2023 Assembly elections.

At this juncture, the central leadership doesn’t want to change the Chief Minister for a while but wants to make a Cabinet rejig. If Basavaraj Bommai is not replaced, then there will be a big change in the Cabinet, party sources told The Federal.

There was a buzz in the party circles after CM Bommai was invited by the central leadership to Delhi. He, however, could not make the trip as he tested COVID positive. He has now recovered from the infection and will head to Delhi next week for a discussion on reshuffling his Cabinet, the sources added.

Also read: No change in CM, Bommai will complete term, asserts Yediyurappa

Preference for BJP ‘original’ 

A section of the party thinks that there is no proper representation of the original BJP cadre in the Cabinet. Even though there are a few leaders like R Ashok, Dr CN Ashwath Narayan, Araga Jnanendra, and BC Nagesh, they are not very effective in their roles.

It is said that the party will induct 10 new faces into the Cabinet and many of them will be with an RSS background, including former ministers Laxman Savadi and KS Eshwarappa. This move is aimed at pacifying party workers who are accusing the BJP leadership of giving preference to leaders who defected from the Congress and JD(S). The workers, according to the sources, feel the leadership is not too bothered about party cadres and the organisational setup.

Some districts were largely ignored while forming the cabinet by Bommai as well as his predecessor BS Yediyurappa (BSY). This time, the party wants to give opportunities to the MLAs of such ‘neglected’ regions including Mysuru and Kalyana Karnataka (Bidar, Yadgir, Raichur, Koppal and Kalaburagi districts). Also, there is a possibility of choosing four Deputy Chief Ministers again in the Bommai cabinet as it was with BSY. For this, leaders may be picked from the Vokkaliga, Lingayat, OBC and SC/ST communities.

Also read: Will finalise Karnataka Cabinet exercise during next Delhi visit: CM Bommai

Sources added that Ramesh Jarkiholi will also get a cabinet berth. Bringing back Savadi would be a plan to keep the Lingayat vote bank intact in the north Karnataka region and Jarkiholi will help to expand the base in the Belagavi area. And, Eshwarappa hails from the BJP’s stronghold Shivamogga.

Savadi was the Deputy Chief Minister in the Yediyurappa government. Though he lost the 2018 Assembly elections from the Athani constituency, he was inducted into the cabinet to keep a check on the CM, as Savadi is also a Lingayat leader from the north Karnataka region and the party wanted him to become the community leader. Later, he was dropped from the Bommai cabinet as the party was unhappy with his performance.

Clean chit

Jarkiholi was emerging as a powerful minister in the BSY cabinet and also got close to the central leadership. But, his name appeared in a sex scandal and he was asked to quit. Now, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) has given him a clean chit and he is set to come back as a minister.

Eshwarappa was asked to resign from the Bommai cabinet after his name surfaced in a contractor-cum-party worker’s suicide case, where the deceased accused the senior BJP leader of demanding a bribe from him. Now, he has been cleared of all charges by the police and he too is ready to return as a minister. He will be a major force to tackle Congress leader Siddaramaiah, as he also hails from the Kuruba community.

Also read: Eshwarappa makes up his mind to resign; says he ‘will be back’

Along with the seniors, new faces including Aravind Bellad, Basanagouda Patil Yatnal and Haladi Shreeniva Shetty will make it to the cabinet. Also, a few important portfolios including Home will be shuffled. The current Home Minister Jnanendra has faced the ire of party workers following Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) leader Praveen Nettaru’s murder last month in Dakshina Kannada district. He is likely to go.

Also read: Amit Shah pulls up Bommai govt for poor handling of Nettaru murder

The Cabinet reshuffle will be done keeping in mind that good governance remains the main focus ahead of next year’s Assembly elections in the state. Also, the sentiments of party workers will be taken into account after they openly displayed their anger against certain ministers for “unproductive performances”.

Meanwhile, Bommai has dismissed talks of a change in CM. “The change of chief minister is just a falsehood spread by the Congress. In the coming days, I will work two more hours a day and spend more time on the development of the state. I will also work towards strengthening the party,” Bommai said.

Also read: Eshwarappa: Hardline BJP leader with a penchant for controversies

Also read: BJYM leader murder probe to be handed over to NIA, says CM Bommai

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