17 ministers in BSY 2.0 Cabinet; party walks tightrope

Yediyurappa has come under criticism from the opposition as 'one-man government', as he was the only member of the state cabinet since he was sworn-in on July 26. (DH photos)

Seventeen ministers were inducted into Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa’s Cabinet on Tuesday, in an exercise that was seen as a balancing act, with the Lingayat community, the party’s core support base, being rewarded with a lion’s share of berths. 

The BJP central leadership appears to have struck a balance between what Yediyurappa wanted and what would be good for the party, keeping experience, caste and regional factors in mind.

In the 18-member Cabinet now, there are eight Lingayats, including Yediyurappa. There are three Vokkaligas, three Dalits, one ST, two backward classes and one Brahmin. 

Former chief minister Jagadish Shettar is now back as a minister, and so are former deputy CMs K S Eshwarappa and R Ashoka. The new Cabinet also has four debutant ministers — J C Madhuswamy, Shashikala Jolle, Prabhu Chauhan and C N Ashwathnarayan — while 13 others served as ministers when the BJP was in power previously. 

Governor Vajubhai R Vala administered the oath of office and secrecy to the 17 ministers in a ceremony that lasted about 47 minutes at Raj Bhavan, where family members and supporters of the inductees turned up in large numbers.

Yediyurappa himself will not have a major grouse with the names finalised by the BJP central leadership for the ministerial berths.

However, it is said that the CM had pitched for the inclusion of Haladi Srinivas Shetty, K Poornima, Basanagouda Patil Yatnal and S Angara, which the top leadership ignored. Much as the BJP may claim to have given representation to castes and communities, the party’s own leaders are upset that the coastal region, which saw a saffron wave in the Assembly polls last year, has got just one berth and that too, MLC Kota Srinivas Poojary.

In all, 17 districts do not have representation in the Cabinet at present. Bengaluru has got four berths — Ashwathnarayan, Ashoka, V Somanna and S Suresh Kumar. 

The old Mysuru region, which comprises Mysuru, Mandya, Hassan, Chamarajanagar and Ramanagaram and where the BJP has not made much electoral inroads, has gone unrepresented.

But the BJP hopes to take advantage of its three Vokkaliga ministers — Ashoka, Ashwathnarayan and C T Ravi — to infiltrate the region dominated by this community. 

Also, Ravi’s induction was seen as clearing the path for Aravind Limabavali, a Dalit (Bhovi) leader who is a former minister, to replace Yediyurappa as the state BJP president. But with the party appointing Nalin Kumar Kateel for the post, Limabavali has been left in the lurch. Ravi was also a contender for the post. 

The induction of former minister Laxman Savadi was unexpected, sources said. In fact, Savadi is currently unelected and speculation is rife that he may be sent to the Legislative Council to ratify his Cabinet berth.

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