Protests broke out in various parts of Karnataka after the portfolio announcement left many senior leaders peeved at being overlooked for the position of deputy chief minister. Sriramulu who had earlier been a minister for health and tourism has once again been given the health and family welfare ministry, no growth despite having been projected during polls as a strong leader from the SC/ST community. In districts like Koppala and Bellari, supporters of Sriramulu and members of the Valmiki association (to which Sriramulu belongs) blocked roads, pelted stones at state-run buses and burnt tyres to vent their distress against the BJP.
On Tuesday morning, when the outgoing BJP state president BS Yediyurappa was passing on the baton to the newly appointed chief Nalin Kumar Kateel, despite direction given to all ministers to be present, some prominent faces were missing. Former Deputy CM R Ashoka opted to meet Kateel at a temple before the ceremony while former CM Jagadish Shettar also congratulated Kateel but was conspicuously absent at the ceremony. Ashoka has been given the revenue portfolio while Shettar made in-charge of the Large and Medium scale industry. Another former Dy CM, Eshwarappa too is reportedly agitated after being given a lightweight Ministry of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj while another senior leader from Chikmagalur district, CT Ravi, also is said to have expressed displeasure at not being trusted with a more crucial ministry.
But the most dangerous strife is over Laxman Savadi being made a Dy CM despite having lost elections in 2018. Savadi, who was at the epicentre of the porngate controversy in 2012, was instrumental in toppling the coalition government, a task for which the high command has now rewarded him. Savadi’s elevation has once again caused friction in Belagavi district of the Mumbai Karnataka region where other influential families like Jarkiholis and Kattis have been offended at this paradigm shift which will cause a huge imbalance in the power struggle in the region.
Opposition parties have been quick to leverage the discontent in the newly formed government to take potshots at CM BSY. Former CM Siddaramiah took to twitter to taunt BSY and said. ‘Mr.@BSYBJP, Our people have the right to know the reason for discontent among your ministers. Is it coz they feel you are incapable? Or is it coz they want lucrative portfolios? Or is it their frustration against unconstitutional invisible hands controlling the govt? Whatever may be the reason, it is not a good sign for a healthy democracy. It is better to dissolve the govt & go for the elections. Our people will have a better choice to make & also you can avoid facing any further humiliation from your high command. #SelfOperatedKamala’. While the government in Karnataka has changed, very little has changed as far as infighting is concerned in the government. The onus will now be on the newly appointed BJP party president Kateel to strike the delicate balance between the party and government.