Ten days after taking oath as the chief minister and subsequently winning the vote of confidence in the Karnataka Assembly on July 29, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) BS Yediyurappa is yet to form the state cabinet.
Although the BJP leader waited for more than a year to get back to the CM’s chair, he is struggling to set up a stable government, especially as he is beset with internal tussles, pressure from rebel MLAs and clearance from party high command in Delhi.
Besides senior leaders who defected to the BJP ahead of 2018 Assembly elections, there are at least 25 of the 105 BJP MLAs who held various portfolios in the previous BJP government, keen on ministerial posts. Add to this the 15 rebel MLAs, who quit their MLA posts and brought down the HD Kumaraswamy-led coalition government, Yediyurappa has too many to handle.
Sources in the BJP told the Federal that the party will go for cabinet formation only after August 9 once the party high command in Delhi gives a clearance. Yediyurappa is scheduled to visit Delhi for three days starting Monday. With the central leadership busy with Parliament sessions and the Kashmir issue, the decision is likely to delay further.
“In all likelihood, the party will go for a partial cabinet expansion and wait for the SC order on the disqualification petition of rebels,” a BJP source said.
The party expects to fill 18-20 of the 33 ministerial berths and keep the rest vacant until some clarity emerges on the rebel MLAs.
Yediyurappa has a lot on his plate. He has to balance the caste equation across the state and satisfy both the Vokkaliga and Lingayat community leaders. Senior BJP leaders like former CM Jagadish Shettar, former deputy chief ministers Ashoka (Vokkaliga) and KS Eshwarappa (Kuruba) besides his close associates like Govind Karjol, Murugesh Nirani, CT Ravi, Umesh Katti, MP Renukacharya, V Somanna, Suresh Kumar among others were in the line up for the ministerial posts.
Besides, the CM also has to take into account the pressure from MLAs like M Krishnappa, a Vokkalliga fighting against DK Shivakumar, who jumped ship ahead of the Assembly elections in 2018.
The over-dependence on the central leadership is causing uneasiness among members of the Yediyurappa camp.
“We are awaiting the central leadership’s clearance. Nothing seems to move and can move without the party high command’s decision,” MLA Somanna said.
Meanwhile, if the Supreme Court upholds the Speaker’s decision, there will be bye-elections in the Assembly segments from where the rebels resigned, in which case, the rebels are planning to field their kith and kin in the elections and get them inducted into Cabinet.
Cabinet expansion is just the starting of troubles for the Yediyurappa government. Opposition party members mocked the CM and questioned the BJP, saying why the party, which was in a hurry to grab power, was not forming the government.
“Where is the cabinet? Does BSY plan to run all the ministries himself? #HorseTraderCM is worried about horses bolting from his stable?” the state Congress unit tweeted.