And finally, BS Yediyurappa got his cabinet as 17 MLAs were sworn in at the Raj Bhawan at 10:30 am on Tuesday. But despite a high command firmly in control, rumble of discordance have already started in the BJP. BSY had made two trips to Delhi to get his list of cabinet ministers approved but it wasn't till midnight on Tuesday that Amit Shah sent his the final list of ministers to be sworn in and that list had several omissions and additions.
Despite BSY’s reluctance, former CM of Karnataka, Jagadish Shettar was also one of the ministers who were sworn in. In an attempt to show strength and unanimity, BSY had instructed all BJP MLAs to be in attendance for the swearing in but several names, including seniors like Balachandra Jharkiholi, Umesh Katti, Renukacharya and Murugesh Nirani showed their disgruntlement at being omitted from the cabinet by rebelliously being absent. Many Yediyurappa loyalists were not given portfolios and BJP high command chose this to be the first stern message about who is in control. Despite being the party chief and chief minister, BSY did not know the final names and insiders at his residence told Republic that the questions from the aspirants caused immense embarrassment for the BJP veteran who had no concrete answers to furbish.
Among the loyal followers of BSY who missed the bus were SA Ramdas, Basvraj Patil Yatnal, Umesh Katti, KG Bopaiah and SR Vishwanath. Some of them are hopeful to be inducted in the second expansion while others are questioning the influence of BSY in the party. Balachandra Jarkiholi from the powerful Jarkiholi family of Belagavi also was deeply disconcerted at his name being deleted by the high command despite BSY throwing his weight behind him. For the first time in over a decade and a half, Karnataka cabinet has no member from the Jarkiholi family although they were pivotal in forming of this government.
LINGAYAT SURPRISE IN KARNATAKA CABINET
Another surprise was Laxman Savadi who, despite losing in the assembly elections finds himself in the cabinet. Sources tell us that this would be the party’s way of gratifying him for his role in toppling the JDS-Congress government and yet not hogging the limelight. Lingayats got the lion's share in the cabinet with BJP looking to show gratitude for the party’s fortunes in the Mumbai Karnataka region in both assembly and Lok sabha elections. With seven of the 17 ministers sworn in from the community, many believe that this could also be crucial in the succession plan for BSY;Shah’s way of ensuring their most prominent vote chunk in the state does not abandon them if and when the party decides to ask BSY to make way for another CM.
In the central Karnataka district of Chitradurga, supporters of Senior BJP MLA GH Thippareddy already started taking to the streets in protest against their MLA not being included. And Reddy was the first to voice his disappointment as well as a statement of trouble for party as he told mediapersons that over the next few days, along with other ‘like-minded’ (read disgruntled) MLAs from the party will meet and decide their further course of action.
READ: Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa to order CBI probe into alleged phone tapping under HD Kumaraswamy: 10 Things to Know
Another senior legislator, S Angara, also aired his indignation against his omission, went on to allege that the party had not respected the ethics and discipline with which he conducted himself through the six terms he has been a legislator for. Disgruntlement at incongruent representation of regions and districts too are being articulated by MLAs. Accusations of regions like coastal Karnataka and Hyderabad Karnataka not getting their share might erupt to distress BSY over the next few days. Even the Old Mysore region where the BJP is looking to increase its foothold saw no faces, crushing the spirits of many.
BJP has kept 16 berths vacant to not just be in a position to accommodate the disqualifies MLAs but also give hope to some of their own. Yediyurappa’s previous bitter experience of being a CM in a highly dissatisfied and fractured party would have taught him a few lessons but this time, it will be coupled with shrinking of his influence in the party.