Yediyurappa plays safe with portfolio allocation; old guard not upset

Updated 5:34 PM, 10 February, 2020
Yeddiyurappa
Yeddiyurappa's cabinet expansion was a fine balancing act as he had to pacify many sections.

Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on Monday (February 10) allocated additional portfolios to 10 newly inducted cabinet ministers (defectors) who were waiting for it since two December last.

Yeddiyurappa, who was walking the tight rope, had a big task in hand considering the portfolio allocation had to be balance between the expectations of the newly inducted ministers and the demands of the old guards in the party.

Defectors a headache

The Chief Minister was under immense pressure to fulfil the promises made to defectors and the portfolio allocation could have triggered a fresh set of rebels within the party.

Key portfolios like water resources was allotted to Ramesh Jarkiholi, Food and Civil Supplies to Anand Singh, Urban Development to Byrathi Basavaraj, Forest to B.C. Patil among others.

With the cabinet expansion last week, the CM inducted 10 ministers while kept six more berths vacant to accommodate the loyalists in the party.

Yediyurappa rewarded Ramesh Jarkiholi who helped prop-up the Yedyurappa government. The former municipalities minister was dropped from the cabinet during the coalition government for his non-performance. And his bitter rivalry with Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar who tried to control Belagavi region by backing Laxmi Hebbalkar turned him an arch rival and fight back against the latter’s growth. He succeeded by defecting to BJP and bring down the coalition government.

Demands high

Jarkiholi indeed wanted everything that once belonged to Shivakumar — the ministry, official bungalow, and the same room in Vidhana Soudha. He held a detailed discussion with the Chief Minister on Saturday and put forth his expectation with no willingness to accept anything other than water resources ministry, previously held by Shivakumar.

Meanwhile, the chief minister has assured two defectors – Adagur H. Vishwanath and former MLA M.T.B. Nagaraj — who lost  the bypolls, would be inducted into the cabinet in the coming days.

Vishwanath expressed his discontent ever since the cabinet reshuffle happened last week. “I served as a cabinet minister before. And it would appropriate for the BJP leadership to allocate me a post in boards and corporations and I am not ready for that,” Vishwanath had said.

The CM also assured Mahesh Kumatahalli, the only defector among the winners who was not inducted into the ministry, a plum post as the director of a state-run corporation. However, the appointment to various boards and corporation will take place only after the state budget on March 5.

Meanwhile, while the newly inducted ministers from Bengaluru were vying for the Bangalore Urban Development Ministry, the CM retained the portfolio to himself considering it gets a bigger share of funds in the overall fund allocation.

Former chief ministers, H.D. Kumaraswamy and Siddaramaiah had drubbed Yediyurappa as an ineffective CM who had no freedom to choose his own ministry. Kumaraswamy recently took a jibe at the BJP saying the BJP government would fall anytime.

“Karnataka government is not a stable one. With the developments taking place, it looks like it would collapse anytime,” Kumaraswamy told reporters last week.

However, BJP leadership said the Yediyurappa tactically handled the portfolio allocation and did not upset the old guard not did he take away any major portfolio from the first set of 17 ministers in the cabinet.

Rural Development Minister K.S. Eshwarappa said one had to differentiate between expectations and demands. Not every minister demanded a specific portfolio. They only wished to have certain portfolios and it was for the CM to allocate or not. And there is no dissidence within the BJP as projected by the opposition, he added.

While the state faced a sort of administrative lockdown during both the coalition government rule and the present BJP government, due to constant threat to government, lack of funds for development projects, and neglect towards flood relief victims, the expectation from the new ministers are high.

Whether the new ministers can perform to match people’s expectations and if they add value to the party in forging ties in the Vokkaliga belt for the BJP, will define their success path.

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