Bengaluru: A mere 24 hours after allocating portfolios to 10 defectors, Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa came under immense pressure from the new entrants, and was forced to change their portfolios.
Ballari mining baron Anand Singh, who was given food and civil supplies, demanded and got a switch to forests, ecology and environment. Another party hopper, B C Patil lost the forest ministry to Anand Singh but got agriculture as compensation.
Why do forests matter so much to Anand Singh?
It’s all tied up with the politics of Ballari district, where the powerful Reddy brothers hold sway. Anand Singh is an old foe of the mining baron brothers. He had earlier wrested an assurance from Yediyurappa that the district would be bifurcated so he can emerge from the shadows of the Reddys and their close associate B. Sreeramulu, who too is a minister.
Ballari is the illegal mining hub of Karnataka where the forests and environment ministry would have leverage on the brothers, explained a senior BJP leader.
As for B C Patil, he had tweeted even before the portfolios were announced that he had been promised a ‘first class’ portfolio, and when it was announced he would be the forest minister, he went into a sulk that hadn’t been given environment and ecology as well.
Explaining Patil’s midnight lobbying for a more choice portfolio , a senior bureaucrat quipped, “The environment and ecology ministries are the ones which give clearances to industries and not the forest ministry.”
Apart from Patil and Singh, Byrathi Basavaraj, who was given urban development without the Bengaluru-related matter, managed to secure two more plum portfolios: Karnataka Urban Water Supplies and Sewerage Board (KUWSSB) and Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation (KUIDFC).
Arabail Shivaram Hebbar who was allotted a relatively low-key ministry has now been given additional charge of the sugar ministry.
Gopalaiah has been allotted the food and civil supplies ministry and Mr Shrimant Patil has been given additional charge of the minority welfare department.
So here are the new ministers who managed to get powerful portfolios:
Anand Singh: Forest, Ecology + Environment in lieu of Food and Civil Supplies
B C Patil: Agriculture in lieu of Forest
K Gopalaiah: Food and Civil Supplies in lieu of Small Scale Industries and Sugar
Arabail Shivaram Hebbar: Additional charge of Sugar along with Labour
Byrathy Basvaraj: Additional charge of KUWSSB and KUIDFC along with Urban Development sans Bengaluru affairs
Shrimant Patil: Minority Welfare + Textiles