Expand Cabinet without delay

Expand Cabinet without delay

The open threat to Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa by a prominent pontiff, Swami Vachanananda, that the dominant Panchamasali community will desert him if he fails to induct a particular MLA as minister, once again demonstrates that religious leaders who are expected to tread the spiritual path are knee-deep in the business of politics. While President Thomas Jefferson of the United States was one of the early proponents of “a wall of separation between the church and the state”, in India, the dividing line between religion and politics which has blurred over the years, seems all set to disappear. Seers indulging in backroom political manoeuvring is nothing new, but it is not every day that the head of mutt publicly canvasses for his candidate and issues a warning to the chief minister of the state.

To his credit, Yediyurappa instead of acquiescing to this diktat reacted with visible anger and even threatened to withdraw from the event, forcing the seer to later retract his statement and issue an apology. Saints in India have traditionally played the role of social reformers, and modern seers dabbling in party politics hiding behind the veil of spirituality shows them in poor light. Cabinet expansion has turned out to be a millstone around the neck of Yediyurappa who has been functioning without a full ministry ever since he took over as chief minister July last. As against a sanctioned strength of 34, the state currently has only 18 ministers who have been allotted additional portfolios.

This has naturally affected the efficiency of administration, especially flood relief work. Yediyurappa is under extreme pressure as he is unable to strike a balance between turncoat Congress and JD(S) legislators who are increasingly growing restive due to the delay in being made ministers, and heavy weights within the BJP who are demanding their pound of flesh. BJP president Amit Shah has repeatedly refused Yediyurappa an appointment to finalise the list of ministers as he apparently wants the chief minister to first clear the mess which is of his own making, instead of shooting from the high command’s shoulders. Karnataka which has experienced a spell of political instability over the last two years and is staring at a financial crisis as admitted by the chief minister himself, is in urgent need of effective governance. The BJP should quickly resolve its internal politics and put a full-fledged ministry in place without any further delay. The state cannot be made to go through any more suffering, just because the ruling party is unable to get its act together.

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