BS Yediyurappa hints at dropping ‘one or two’ ministers

Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa hints at dropping ‘one or two’ ministers

B S Yediyurappa

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Wednesday indicated a possible reshuffle of his Cabinet — dropping some ministers — amid a growing chorus within the BJP that a few incumbents should “sacrifice” for new faces to come in. 

Speaking to reporters in Belagavi, Yediyurappa said he will visit Delhi on January 30 to hold talks with the party’s central leadership.

Yediyurappa, while assuring that all the 11 newly-elected MLAs will be made ministers, hinted at the challenges in fulfilling the demand, saying that Delhi could drop a couple of names. “...Those who joined us and won the bypoll will be made ministers along with Umesh Katti (eight-time Hukkeri MLA),” he said. Asked about speculation on dropping some incumbents, he said, “Let’s see if Delhi leaders desire to drop one or two. I’m not sure...”

Yediyurappa’s meeting with the high command is expected to draw curtains on the much-delayed Cabinet expansion, even as he faces a multitude of problems in pacifying his partymen.

Besides a growing list of ministerial aspirants, demands from particular communities to accommodate their representatives and the clamour to create another Deputy CM berth, have caused headache for the chief minister. But he will not have more deputies, he clarified. “Currently three are DyCMs. They will continue and I will not make anyone else deputy.”

Yediyurappa will face challenges in fulfilling the promise made to 17 rebel MLAs, who quit the Congress-JD(S) coalition to join the BJP and hence led to the formation of the BJP government. Inducting all newly-elected MLAs is expected to skew community and regional representation in the Cabinet. 

The Cabinet already has eight Lingayats, including the CM, and inducting new MLAs and Umesh Katti would increase the community’s tally to 12, which the high command has advised Yediyurappa to avoid. Ensuring a caste balance in the Cabinet could prompt the central leadership to drop some Lingayat ministers, say sources.

Apart from Lingayats, the Cabinet currently has three Vokkaligas, three from Scheduled Caste, two OBCs, one from Scheduled Tribe and a Brahmin.

Region-wise, Yediyurappa’s expanded Cabinet could be Belagavi-heavy as the tally will go up to six ministers hailing from the district, including Katti, Ramesh Jarkiholi (Gokak), Mahesh Kumathalli (Athani) and Shrimanth Patil (Kagwad). 

Katti and Arvind Limbavali are expected to be the new faces in the Cabinet from the native BJP camp. Other names, such as Karkala’s V Sunil Kumar and MLC N Ravi Kumar, are doing the rounds.