CM Yediyurappa Inducts 17 Ministers Into Lingayat-Heavy Cabinet
The list included prominent names like KS Eshwarappa, Jagdish Shettar and CT Ravi.
Nearly four weeks after taking oath on 26 July, 17 ministers led by Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa took oath as Cabinet members on Tuesday, 20 August, ending a long period of instability in the state.
After multiple rounds of discussions internally and meetings with Home Minister Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Yediyurappa had finally received the green signal to form his Cabinet on Monday.
However, the list of ministers announced by Yediyurappa indicated a Lingayat-heavy cabinet with 7 of the 17 ministers belonging to the same caste.
Seen as the face of the Lingayat community in Karnataka, it was expected that the CM would favour the Lingayat community and would have a tough time ensuring equal representation. However, Lingayats being a huge voter base for the BJP in Karnataka, also translated to the high command in Delhi not interfering too much with Yediyurappa’s choice.
7 of 17 Ministers Belong to the Lingayat Community
Seven of the 17 new ministers – Jagadish Shettar, V Somanna, JC Madhuswamy, CC Patil, Laxman Savadi and Basavaraj Bommai – represent Lingayat interests and have returned to the Cabinet. Newcomer Sashikala Jolle, the only woman in Yediyurappa’s Cabinet, is also from the same community.
Not only do the Lingayats form a huge chunk of the electorate in Karnataka, most of BJP’s MLAs are also Lingayats.
Yediyurappa was expected to face some heat over favouring the community but their electoral importance has trumped rumours of favouritism. While the final list was approved by Amit Shah and the high command, an expert told The Quint that the decision appears to be completely in sync with voter support bases in north Karnataka, a BJP bastion.
Other castes have also found due representation in the form of B Sriramalu from the Valmiki Nayak community, R Ashok from the Vokkaliga community and Suresh Kumar representing the Brahmin community.
Savadi, Poojari, Nagesh Also Get Berths
LS Savadi, who lost the elections from the Athani constituency to Mahesh Kumathahalli, also found a place as a Cabinet minister.
Along with CC Patil and J Krishna Palemar, Savadi had reportedly been forced to resign from the Assembly in 2012 following a row where the three ministers were found to have been viewing pornography inside the Vidhana Soudha.
Savadi, who lost the Athani seat by a margin of approximately 2,000 votes, is believed to be the BJP’s choice for bypolls from the region after Congress’ Kumathahalli resigned from the party, leading to his disqualification under the anti-defection law.
Kota Srinivas Poojari, an MLC from Udupi, also found his name in the list under the legislative council quota. Poojari was reportedly among the front-runners from coastal Karnataka who were vying for Cabinet posts.
He is believed to be particularly popular in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada after serving as an MLC from the district for the past ten years.
Independent MLA H Nagesh also found a place in Yeddiyurappa’s new Cabinet. Nagesh and Independent MLA R Shankar had earlier attracted state-wide scorn for ditching the previous Kumaraswamy government to pledge their support for the BJP at the time of the crucial floor test last month.
No Representation From Many Districts
There were a few surprises, however, in Yediyurappa’s final Cabinet with no MLA from Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada and Udupi districts finding a slot.
Dakshina Kannada and Udupi have been a long-time bastions of the BJP with prominent names like Anantkumar Hegde, Shobha Karandlaje. Experts believe that they may find a place in the next round of Cabinet expansion that will be done to fill all the berths in the state Cabinet.
Five-time MLA from Sullia, S Angara from Dakshina Kannada was also sidelined.
Interestingly, Bengaluru saw a good amount of representation with 4 ministers including R Ashok, Somanna, Suresh Kumar and Dr CN Ashwathnarayan finding a place in the Cabinet. Balachandar Jarkiholi, MLA from Arabhavi, was reportedly expected to get a plum post for his role in getting his brother Ramesh Jarkiholi to resign from the Congress party.
While the posts of Cabinet ministers have been announced, there has been no announcement on which portfolio has been allotted to whom.
(With inputs from The New Indian Express)
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