Bengaluru: After a delay of almost a month when Karnataka faced devastating floods with the 'one-man' government of B.S. Yediyurappa left to fight the natural calamity on his own, the veteran BJP leader finally got a 17 strong cabinet with seven of the new ministers belonging to his dominant Lingayat community.
In fact, Yediyurappa had made several trips to Delhi with his list of ministers in the past 25 days after being sworn in as CM on July 26, only to be told by the BJP top brass to wait and attend to more pressing matters like the floods in the state. Even on Monday evening, hours before the swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday morning, there was no inkling about who would make it to the cabinet with the list finally released early Tuesday morning. The cabinet is still only half full as Karnataka can have a 33-strong ministry with a 224-member Assembly.
Going by the composition of the ministry, it's more than evident that the national leadership has dominated the selection process with only four loyalists of Mr Yediyurappa – J.C. Madhuswamy, V. Somanna, Laxman Savadi and R. Ashok – finally being inducted. The BJP obviously does not want a repeat of the disastrous run it had in power from 2008-13 when it was wracked by internal dissent with Yediyurappa forced to give way to Sadananda Gowda, and Gowda later giving up his CM chair to Jagadish Shettar.
The others who were inducted Tuesday, are Govind Karjol, Dr. Ashwathnarayana, K.S.Eshwarappa, Jagadish Shettar, B.Sreeramulu, S. Suresh Kumar, C.T. Ravi, Basavaraj Bommai, Kota Srinivasa Poojari, C.C. Patil, H. Nagesh, Prabhu Chauhan and Shashikala Jolle.
The party has clearly pandered to its Lingayat votebank selecting seven ministers from the community. Among the others, three are Vokkaligas, three others are from the Scheduled Castes, two are from the OBCs , one is a Brahmin and the other belongs to a Scheduled Tribe.
The exercise threw up some surprises with defeated Athani MLA, Laxman Savadi being inducted into the cabinet and senior party MLA, Umesh Katti being excluded. Mr Savadi is well known for his rivalry with Mr Katti and the Jarkiholi brothers in Belagavi district. Another surprise entry was that of Naragund MLA, C.C. Patil. The fact that Savadi and Dr C.N. Ashwathnarayana have been inducted makes it clear that the party has gone overboard to please those who had toiled to bring down the previous coalition government and install a BJP government in the state.
Other senior legislators, who did not make the cut include Balachandra Jarkiholi (who had threatened to bring down the government if houses were not built for the flood-hit), Murugesh Nirani, Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, C.M. Udasi, G.H. Thippareddy, M.P. Renukacharya, S. Angara, S.A. Ramdas, Appachchu Ranjan, Haladi Srinivasa Shetty, Aravinda Limbavali, Sunil Kumar, Dattereya Patil Revoor, Rajugowda, S.A. Ravindranath and Araga Jnanedra.
Many districts were also left unrepresented, including the BJP strongholds of Dakshina Kannada, Kodagu and Davangere. And to the disappointment of legislators from Hyderabad-Karnataka particularly Kalaburagi, the region was completely ignored. There is a possibility of these districts getting representation when the next phase of cabinet expansion is taken up.
The districts that did get representation were Bagalkote, Belagavi, Bengaluru Urban, Shivamogga, Udupi, Hubballi- Dharwad, Ballari, Haveri, Chikkmagaluru, Tumakuru, Gadag, Kolar and Bidar....