'High command’ culture comes to BJP

Amit Shah has left nobody in doubt as to who the real boss is. Yediyurappa has been told to adopt the ‘Gujarat model’, in which a cluster of departments will be monitored by an IAS officer from the chief minister’s secretariat. (DH File Photo)

The much-delayed expansion of the Karnataka cabinet which took place on Tuesday has clearly established that the BJP has succumbed to the ‘high command’ culture of the Congress, while Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa far from enjoying a free hand has been put on a tight leash. Yediyurappa had to face acute embarrassment right from the day the JD(S)-Congress government fell. First, he was not allowed to take oath as chief minister on the date he desired; then, he was refused permission to expand the ministry for about three weeks. In fact, Yediyurappa was not aware of who his ministers would be until the list approved by party chief Amit Shah arrived just a few hours before the swearing-in ceremony. The ‘high command’ culture is a sad reflection on the federal structure of India where a chief minister has no say in the formation of his own ministry. While the immediate effort has been to accommodate different communities, with the lion’s share cornered by Lingayats, many districts have gone without representation. Yediyurappa could not manage to secure a berth for some senior leaders or even his close confidants. The BJP government, which has a wafer-thin majority in the Assembly, will now have a tough job convincing the disappointed MLAs.

The cabinet expansion has also given a glimmer of hope to the 17 legislators who were disqualified by former Speaker Ramesh Kumar, with 16 of 34 minister posts being kept vacant. By inducting H Nagesh, an independent MLA who was a minster in the previous government before defecting, the BJP has sent a loud message to other rebels that they will not be forgotten. Besides, two BJP leaders —Malleshwaram MLA C N Ashwath Narayana and Laxman Savadi — who are perceived to be behind ‘Operation Kamala’ that led to the fall of the Kumaraswamy government, have been rewarded with cabinet berths. Savadi is not a member of either House of the legislature, having lost the 2018 election.

Amit Shah has left nobody in doubt as to who the real boss is. Yediyurappa has been told to adopt the ‘Gujarat model’, in which a cluster of departments will be monitored by an IAS officer from the chief minister’s secretariat. A circular to this effect has already been issued. Yediyurappa, who had put the BJP to shame during his earlier stint when he was sent behind bars over corruption charges, will himself be under the watchful eyes of the party leadership. With the reins and the whip in the hands of Shah, Yediyurappa, whose wings are clipped, is now reduced to a mere token chief minister.

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