The much-awaited expansion of the BS Yediyuurappa-led Karnataka government is finally taking place this Thursday, 6 February. The chief minister himself made this announcement to media persons on Sunday.
No doubt almost all newly elected and former disqualified MLAs except for Mahesh Kumatalli and Athani legislator heaved a sigh of relief following the chief minister’s delayed pronouncement. MTB Nagaraj, former Minister in the HD Kumaraswamy-led JDS-INC coalition government and AH Vishwanath, former Karnataka Janata Dal-Secular (JDS) president, and R Shankar, a former minister in the previous government, expressed displeasure for being left out of the cabinet formation.
Both Nagaraj and Vishwanath lost in Hoskote of Bengaluru Rural district and Hunsur constituency in Mysuru district respectively in the recently held by-election while R Shankar was denied the ruling party ticket to contest from Ranebennur constituency in Haveri district, which he had quit in order to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Although 14 Indian National Congress (INC) and three Janata Dal-Secular party MLAs’ had tendered their resignations to enable the BJP to topple the alliance parties’ government, bye-elections weren’t announced to Rajarajeshwarinagar in Bengaluru district and Maski constituency in Raichuru district.
In both these constituencies, the rival defeated BJP candidates have contested the election outcome of INC legislators, Munirathna (Rajaraheshwarinagar) and Prathapgouda Patil (Maski). The high court is still hearing the petitions.
Yediyurappa, after making any number of hectic efforts to reach out to the party high command, at last succeeded to get the nod for the delayed cabinet expansion.
Mahesh Kumatalli, who has been sore with the party decision of not being included in the cabinet, has been vocal enough in his public outbursts. He retorted, “If I were not intended to be included in the cabinet, how come the BJP leaders gave a go-ahead for my resignation?” Not satisfied by airing his anger in the open, he went to the extent of claiming, “If the party so desires, I don’t mind being a loyal worker sweeping the party office!”
The reaction of the remaining three left out from the ministry was no better. Nagaraj, Vishwanath and R Shankar were categorical in expressing their unhappiness over the chief minister’s move.
On his part, Yediyurappa tried to defend his stance by citing the apex court’s judgment. He reiterated, “There is no way of leaving all the 17 MLAs responsible for the formation of the BJP government in the lurch. All of them will be reciprocated for their gesture but since the Supreme Court has ruled out any positions to the disqualified legislators without being elected to either of the houses of the legislature, the process is being delayed.”
Vishwanath shot back yesterday in Mysuru: “If I don’t become a minister, heavens will not fall down. But what about Yediyurappa’s promise of making all the 17 MLAs who quit their assembly seats to pave way for a BJP government?”
The tone and tenor of Vishwanath and Nagaraj appeared to have changed a lot after both of them met the chief minister today. They have, according to party sources, been placated with the assurance of ministerial berths in May or June when there will be half-a-dozen vacancies in the upper house.
So, for the time being, the chief minister has brought under control dissidence and disenchantment. Interestingly, Nalinkumar Kateel, the recently unanimously elected Karnataka BJP president, has no role to play in the present state of party affairs. Just like Kateel started neglecting the chief minister once he became the state party president, Yediyurappa proved no better in paying him back in the same coin.
Karnataka govt shaky as Yediyurappa repeats past mistakes
But much worse was the way Yediyurappa behaved during his latest New Delhi tour to seek the permission of party’s national president JP Nadda and Home Minister Amit Shah to expand his cabinet. He was accompanied by neither his ministerial colleagues nor state party office bearers. He preferred to take with him his two sons. One of them, BY Raghavendra, is the ruling party’s Lok Sabha MP from Shivamogga while BY Vijayendra is the party youth wing general secretary in Karnataka.
It looks Yediyurappa is least interested in learning from his previous personal blunders. During his previous second stint as the chief minister in 2008, he gained a bad name due to the activities of his family members and more so his daughters and sons-in-law. But the past pitfalls don’t seem to haunt him now, it appears going by his continued mannerism, which isn’t a display of a matured leadership.
As if the former disqualified legislators’ public outcry alone weren’t enough, now the BJP’s loyal legislators too have joined the bandwagon of rebellion. They met at the legislators’ house today and resolved to bring their grievances to the party high command. They are upset at the reported move of the chief minister to induct CP Yogeshwar and defeated Channapatna MLA into the cabinet on Thursday and are making all efforts to scuttle the reported move.
For Yediyurappa, it looks to be a personal commitment since Yogeshwar, along with Dr Ashwathnarayana, Arvind Limbavali and others, played a pivotal role in ensuring “Operation Lotus 2”.
Already, Lakshman Savadi, who had lost in Athani of Belagavi district, has not only been made a minister but also rewarded with the position of deputy chief minister. “If Yogeshwar is now made a minister, what about our fate,” lament loyal legislators.
Among such legislators include many who have been repeatedly elected for three, four, six and eight times. Though they have made public what is brewing in their minds, they haven’t dared to spell out what their next course of action will be if the party leadership pays no heed to their woes.
But the present piquant predicament is that, beyond expressing their displeasure, there is nothing they can do unless JDS and INC have a gameplan of poaching the ruling party MLAs, which looks like a mirage now.
That way, the Karnataka government does not look headed for a major political crisis right now. But the same situation cannot be assured in the near future if the loyal legislators continue to be kept at a distance from the corridors of power.