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Discontent over Yediyurappa cabinet

At least 10 BJP lawmakers skipped the swearing-in at Raj Bhavan where 17 ministers took oath of office

By K.M. Rakesh in Bangalore

  • Published 21.08.19, 2:42 AM
  • Updated 21.08.19, 2:42 AM
Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa along with the newly inducted ministers at the swearing-in ceremony at Raj Bhavan in Bangalore on Tuesday.
Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa along with the newly inducted ministers at the swearing-in ceremony at Raj Bhavan in Bangalore on Tuesday. (PTI)

The long-delayed cabinet formation in Karnataka has immediately triggered dissent as several BJP MLAs stayed away from the swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday and a few of them hit out at the party for ignoring them.

At least 10 BJP lawmakers skipped the swearing-in at Raj Bhavan where 17 ministers took oath of office. The strength of the cabinet will for now be 18, including chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa.

The public airing of discontent could become a major headache for the chief minister even before he completes a month in office.

Party MLAs G.H. Thippareddy, Umesh Katti, Goolihatti Shekar and A. Angara have expressed dissent openly unlike the others who just stayed away from the swearing-in.

The first shot came from five-time MLA Thippareddy who lamented that seniors like him had been ignored.

“Some of us likeminded MLAs will meet soon in Bangalore to take a call on our next move,” an angry Thippareddy told reporters. His supporters protested in Chitradurga by blocking roads.

Shekar told a Kannada channel that he had been left in the cold for the second time — drawing attention to how he had not been included in the ministry after he, as an Independent, extended support to Yedyurappa’s government in 2008.

Shekar joined the BJP shortly ahead of the 2018 Assembly polls. “I sometimes feel I shouldn’t have joined the BJP, as being an Independent is much better,” he said.

Angara, a six-time MLA from Sullia, said his constituents were “unhappy” at him being left out. “I am answerable to my people,” he told reporters.

BJP veteran Umesh Katti said he was “disappointed but would wait and see”.

“I was hoping for a ministerial berth as I have been blessed by the people eight times,” he said.

But a bigger worry for the BJP would be the absence of senior lawmakers such as Murugesh Nirani, M.P. Renukacharya, C.P. Yogeshwar and Balachandra Jarkiholi from the swearing-in.

Balachandra is the younger brother of disqualified Congress lawmaker Ramesh Jarkiholi, who proved to be a wrecking ball after the previous Congress-JDS government dropped him from the cabinet in December 2018 to accommodate his younger sibling and then “rebel” Satish Jarkiholi.

While the sanctioned strength of the Karnataka cabinet is 34, a BJP source said 16 seats had been kept aside for the disqualified Congress and JDS lawmakers who helped bring down the previous government.

Although they have been disqualified for the remaining part of the current Assembly term, they have approached the Supreme Court for relief.

Sources said some of the miffed BJP MLAs held a meeting at Renukacharya’s home to take stock of the situation and chart out their next move.

Some of the Congress-JDS rebels who have been disqualified also held a meeting at the home of Ramesh Jarkiholi, who had led them out of the coalition.

As expected, Yediyurappa preferred his Lingayat caste-mates in the cabinet, with eight of the 17 ministers belonging to the dominant community.

While several senior leaders were left out, Yediyurappa included Independent MLA H. Nagesh, who was among those who jumped ship from the coalition.

Sources said this was an indication to the disqualified MLAs that they would be considered whenever possible.

B. Sriramulu, a close friend of former minister and tainted mining baron Janaradhana Reddy, was among those who took oath on Tuesday.

Dalit leader Govind M. Karjol, J.C. Madhuswamy, S. Suresh Kumar, K.S. Eshwarappa, Jagadish Shettar and R. Ashoka also secured cabinet berths. Shashikala Jolle is the lone woman in the cabinet.

Laxman Savadi, a minister caught watching porn in the Assembly in 2012, is back in the cabinet.

After their meeting, the disqualified MLAs said they would head to Delhi in connection with the case they have filed in the Supreme Court.

“We met only to discuss our plan to go to Delhi and meet our lawyers. There is nothing more to it,” said K. Sudhakar, one of the disqualified lawmakers.

At the first cabinet meeting that was held soon after the ceremony, Yediyurappa asked ministers to tour flood-hit areas in 17 districts.

After assuming charge, Yediyurappa has held four cabinet meetings without a single minister and only officials at hand.

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