Resentment erupted within the state BJP soon after Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa announced the list of seven Ministers to be inducted into his 17-month-old cabinet on Wednesday (January 13).
The ruling party legislators have expressed reservations about MLCs not elected by the people being made ministers, lack of representation from certain regions with most ministers still from Bengaluru and Belagavi districts, and are peeved that their “seniority or sacrifice” is not being considered.
Yediyurappa earlier in the day announced that MLAs Umesh Katti, Arvind Limbavali, Murugesh Nirani, C P Yogeshwar, S Angara, and MLCs MTB Nagaraj and R Shankar will be sworn in as ministers. After the announcement, several BJP MLAs, who were aspirants, expressed serious discontent.
Vijayapura City MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, who has been critical of Yediyurappa, accused the chief minister of making appointments under blackmail, without considering seniority or honesty.
Alleging that the CM and his family have hijacked the BJP in Karnataka, he also requested the prime minister to end the dynastic politics of Yediyurappa’s family in the state. “The CM is making those who are blackmailing him ministers. Three people — one political secretary and two ministers — have been blackmailing him with some of Yediyurappa’s CDs for three months. One who will become minister, besides blackmailing with CD, was also involved in payment of money to Vijayendra (CM’s son),” the former union minister said.
Speaking to reporters in Vijayapura, Yatnal, who had stated that he did not want to become minister under Yediyurappa, claimed that the three people blackmailing the CM had met him four months ago with a plan to depose Yediyurappa. “I challenge you (Yediyurappa) ahead of Makara Sankranti that from Uttarayana your (political) end will begin and a new period will start under PM Modi in Karnataka,” he said, as he demanded Yediyurappa’s resignation following High Court dismissing his petition seeking quashing of FIRs against him in an illegal land denotification case. His statement comes despite warnings by the BJP leadership against making statements in public on issues relating to the party and leaders.
Also, making a reference to the blackmail, ministerial aspirant and MLC A H Vishwanth, who was among MLAs from the Congress-JD(S) coalition who resigned in 2019 and switched over to the BJP, hit out at Yediyurappa for not keeping his promise.
Demanding to know why Excise Minister H Nagesh was being dropped and RR Nagar MLA Munirathna was not inducted, he said, “It is because of their sacrifice you are a CM today…instead, you are making Yogeshwar a minister, who has fraud and cheating cases against him. Why are you making him a minister, is he blackmailing you?” he asked.
Honnali MLA and chief minister’s political secretary M P Renukacharya, another ministerial aspirant, also expressed his displeasure, stating that the government was limited to two districts and that the CM and party leaders have to look into it.
“Injustice has happened to Hyderabad Karnataka, central and coastal Karnataka regions. It (government or cabinet) is limited to Bengaluru and Belagavi…. I’m upset,” he told reporters, adding that he has never lobbied for a ministerial post and cannot set aside his self-respect.
Considered a Yediyurappa loyalist, Renukacharya, who met party general secretary in-charge of the state Arun Kumar on his arrival at the airport on Wednesday, also expressed reservations about five MLCs in the cabinet. “We have been elected by the people (as MLAs), what’s the use?”
Six-time MLA G H Thippareddy, who represents Chitradurga constituency and has been sulking for some time now, said he feels “let down” after being in politics for five decades and as legislator for 30 years, as he did not get an opportunity to serve the people as a minister.
Expressing surprise over MLC Yogeshwar being named a minister, he said more than half the ministers in the cabinet are either from Bengaluru or Belagavi and that some who worked against the interest of the party during elections have also been made ministers.
With the induction of Limbavali, Yediyurappa’s cabinet will now have eight ministers representing Bengaluru, followed by Belgavi with five, with the induction of Katti.
Bommanahalli MLA M Satish Reddy asked what yardstick Yediyurappa had adopted in his selection of ministers and said the absence of late Union minister Ananthkumar, “who had an ear for our woes —is very clear.” “…you (Yediurappa), state and central leaders can’t see honest young workers?” he questioned.
Senior MLA from Krishnaraja constituency S A Ramadass said he has been serving the party for 28 years. “Injustice has happened to old Mysuru region. Any other party MLA from Mysuru could have been made a minister.”
From the beginning the cabinet expansion was being seen as a tightrope walk for the chief minister, considering that there are too many aspirants, from the party old guard to Congress-JD(S) rebels who are now BJP legislators.
The cabinet currently has 27 members and seven berths are vacant. With the induction of seven ministers and the dropping of H Nagesh from the ministry, there will be one berth that will be vacant in the state cabinet.