Berth pangs for Karnataka CM as leaders line up

B S Yediyurappa

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa’s Cabinet woes are brimming over with newly elected rebels and disgruntled BJP leaders posing multiple challenges ahead of the expansion expected by December-end.

Several party leaders knocked at the CM’s door on Tuesday with their berth demands, even as Yediyurappa is trying to accommodate rebels in the Cabinet, keeping regional and caste equations in mind. The clamour for withdrawal of deputy chief ministerial posts is another concern.

Yediyurappa, meanwhile, appeared to have poured cold water on the Cabinet aspirations of M T B Nagaraj and H Vishwanath.

Speaking to reporters, he said, “We have maintained that only those who won bypolls will be inducted into the Cabinet. The question of including others doesn’t arise.”

One or two other BJP MLAs will also be made ministers after consulting party high command, he said.

While Nagaraj and Vishwanath, the two defectors from Congress and JD(S), were expected to be inducted, sources said they will have to be first elected as MLAs.

The favourites to be included in the next expansion are eight-time MLA from Hukkeri in Belagavi district Umesh Katti and BJP general secretary Arvind Limbavali, who was in-charge of bypolls, sources said.

Yediyurappa is expected to visit Delhi after December 21 or 22. Before that, his Monday meeting with BJP general secretary (organisation) B L Santosh triggered hectic lobbying by ministers and MLAs looking for plum berths.

According to sources, Santosh has asked the CM to compile a list of hopefuls and go to Delhi.

After this, Umesh Katti, who was among the disgruntled leaders, met Yediyurappa. Soon after, Ballari MLA Somashekar Reddy also put pressure on him to induct B Sriramulu as DyCM. This was followed by Gokak MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi, who urged the CM to keep his word on appointing a DyCM.

DyCM Laxman Savadi — who finds himself at the crossroads following the recent bypolls — also met Yediyurappa to ensure that he was not removed from the Cabinet.

Yediyurappa’s political secretary M P Renukacharya also paid a visit, demanding Cabinet berth for a leader from “Davangere and Chitradurga” districts. Newly elected MLAs Shrimant Patil and Narayan Gowda also met the CM with their demands.

Rumours are that DyCM Ashwath Narayan may be made Bengaluru Development Minister, while newly elected MLA K Sudhakar will bag the Medical Education portfolio.

‘Withdraw DyCM berths’

Senior BJP leaders have expressed discontentment over the creation of DyCM posts and the demands of few other leaders to be appointed to the post by creating two more berths.  

According to Revenue Minister R Ashoka, there is opposition among some leaders in the party over the appointment of DyCMs. “Leaders such as Renukacharya have already expressed their reservations with the CM over the issue,” he told reporters, adding that he was not in the race for the post.

A final call on the issue will be decided by the state leadership and party high command, he said.

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