Cabinet Reshuffle: Nod to Yediyurappa Opponents of Karnataka, TN Kongu Leader

BJP has sent a clear message that BS Yediyurappa is not its priority. And in TN, AIADMK is no longer the focus.

4 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Among those in the Narendra Modi cabinet, who are opposed to B S Yediyurappa at the state level, are Shobha Karandlaje and A Narayanaswamy. From Tamil Nadu's Kongu belt, L Murugan was chosen.&nbsp;</p></div>

In what seems to be a clear message to Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, the Centre has inducted two MPs who had fallen out with the Lingayat BJP leader into Cabinet berths.

Meanwhile, in the neighbouring Tamil Nadu, one berth was reserved for a BJP leader from the Kongu belt, which is All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's stronghold.

Shobha Karandlaje, a Vokkaliga leader and MP from Udupi-Chikkamagalur has made it to the cabinet. Karandlaje who was earlier a Yediyurappa supporter had later been sidelined by the party over a fallout with Gali Janardhan Reddy who was tourism minister in 2009. Another inductee, Chitradurga MP A Narayanaswamy who is a Dalit is close to Yeddiyurappa’s political opponent BL Santhosh.

From Tamil Nadu L Murugan was inducted into the cabinet.


Why Karandlaje, Narayanaswamy?

Karandlaje was Rural Development and Panchayat Raj minister in Yediyurappa’s 2008 cabinet. “Yediyurappa used to consult her frequently and she was very close to him at the time,” a political analyst close to the BJP in Karnataka told The Quint.

Karandlaje’s time was up when Gali Janardhan Reddy of Bellary BJP camps raised an objection against her growing influence in the state politics. Reddy at the time was running a crusade against the incumbent BJP government and had threatened to leave the BJP camp with close to 50 MLAs who were believed to be close to him.

While Yediyurappa reluctantly dropped Karandlaje, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) kept her political future alive.

“She started her political career in the RSS and the Sangh’s blessings were always with her,” a source in Karnataka political circles said. Karandlaje, however, was not close to Yediyurappa’s family, including his sons BY Vijayendra and Raghavendra. She was kept out from state politics because the family did not approve of her.

“Right now, she is inducted into the cabinet because she is close to the high command. She is no longer with the Yediyurappa camp,” a source said.

On the other hand, Narayanaswamy is believed to have been inducted into the cabinet because the BJP wants to consolidate its base among the Left-Dalits of Karanataka (followers of Jagjivan Ram, as opposed to Dr BR Ambedkar).

Indicating that Yediyurappa has remained essentially a Lingayat leader who has failed to integrate other communities into the fold, Narayanaswamy was inducted into the cabinet.

Narayanaswamy is a supporter of BJP leader BL Santhosh, who is a political opponent of Yediyurappa. “With this move, the BJP high command has made both the Left-Dalits and Santhosh happy,” a source said. The cabinet has also not left Karnataka's Lingayat vote bank to chances.

For the BJP, Narayanaswamy is the Dalit face for Karnataka. "It is by design that he is being groomed, because since 2008, the Left-Dalits have been supporting the BJP," a source said.

Bracing for Elections in Karnataka

Also inducted into the cabinet are Rajeev Chandrasekhar, BJP's Rajya Sabha MP from Bengaluru who was in-charge of Puducherry elections.

Chandrasekhar, who is originally from Kerala, has been remaining neutral during the power struggles within Karnataka's BJP circles. "He is very close to the high command. It is not because of recommendations from the state unit that he has got a cabinet berth," a source said.

Does this mean that Yediyurappa's say does not matter anymore to the Centre?

"No strong leader from the Yediyurappa camp were inducted into the cabinet. It sends out a clear message," a BJP source said. However, the BJP which is expected to face Legislative Assembly polls in Karnataka in 2023, has done its best to appease its Lingayat vote base.

Bhagwanth Khuba, a Lingayat, was inducted into the cabinet. He is MP from Bidar. Khuba is a Banajiga Lingayat, like Yediyurappa. "The BJP is still not ready to appease other communities from among the Lingayats," the source said. Panchamasali Lingayats have been up in arms against Yediyurappa, even communicating that they would want a replacement for him.

The common reason for the four MPs to have reached the cabinet is the Assembly polls of 2023 which is slated to be held along with the Lok Sabha polls. "All the four leaders have hold in their own communities and sends out the message to the voters that Yediyurappa alone does not decide the fate of BJP in Karnataka," said a political analyst.

In the neighbouring state Tamil Nadu, the BJP has further dampened its alliance with the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam by deciding on one cabinet berth.


Kongu Nadu in Focus in TN

Tamil Nadu's BJP leader, L Murugan, who had managed to secure four seats for the party in the recently concluded Assembly polls was given a berth.

L Murugan is a leader of Kongu region or the western region of Tamil Nadu, which is also a stronghold of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. AIADMK was an alliance partner of the BJP when TN went to polls in April 2021.

Selecting its own party leader from Kongu would mean a direct affront to AIADMK. A leader of the latter party, C V Shanmugam, had on 6 July explained that AIADMK's alliance with the BJP had adversely affected his party.

AIADMK was voted out of power in 2021 state elections.

No other state in the south rewarded with a new cabinet berth during the reshuffle.

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