Karnataka: Yediyurappa's Cabinet Expansion Triggers Political Infighting

Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, who has been critical of Yediyurappa, accused the chief minister of making appointments under blackmail, without considering seniority or honesty.

New Delhi: The 17-month-old cabinet in Karnataka was expanded on Wednesday with the induction of seven ministers. Governor Vajubhai Vala administered the oath of office and secrecy to the ministers at a ceremony at the Raj Bhavan.

The new ministers are MLAs Umesh Katti (Hukkeri), S. Angara (Sullia), Murugesh Nirani (Bilgi) and Arvind Limbavali (Mahadevapura), and MLCs R. Shankar, M.T.B. Nagaraj and C.P. Yogeshwar.

Chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa, his cabinet colleagues, BJP leaders and office-bearers, including general secretary in-charge of Karnataka Arun Singh, state unit President Nalin Kumar Kateel, senior state government officials, family members and supporters of the new ministers, among others, were present.

Soon after resentment erupted within the state BJP and ruling party legislators, who were aspirants, expressed serious reservations about MLCs not elected by the people being made ministers, lack of representation to certain regions, with most ministers still from Bengaluru and Belagavi districts and also on their “seniority or sacrifice” not being considered.

Vijayapura City MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, who has been critical of Yediyurappa, accused the chief minister of making appointments under blackmail, without considering seniority or honesty.

Alleging that the chief minister and his family have ‘hijacked’ the BJP in Karnataka, he also requested the PM to end dynastic politics from Yediyurappa’s family in the state.

“CM is making those who are blackmailing him ministers. Three people- one political secretary and two ministers have been blackmailing with some of Yediyurappa’s CDs for three months. One who will become minister today, along with CD blackmail, was also involved in payment of money to Vijayendra (CM’s son),” the former union minister said.

Speaking to reporters in Vijayapura, Yatnal, who had stated that he did not want to become minister under Yediyurappa, claimed three people who are blackmailing the chief minister had met him four months ago with a plan to depose Yediyurappa.

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“I challenge you (Yediyurappa) ahead of Makara Sankranti that from Uttarayana your (political) end will begin and a new period will start under PM Modi in Karnataka,” he said, as he demanded Yediyurappa’s resignation following high court dismissing his petition seeking quashing of FIRs against him in an illegal land denotification case.

His statement comes despite warnings by the BJP leadership against making statements in public on issues relating to the party and leaders.

Also making a reference to blackmail, ministerial aspirant and MLC A.H. Vishwanth, who was among MLAs from the Congress- JD(S) coalition to resign in 2019 and switched over to BJP, hit out at Yediyurappa for not keeping his promise.

Demanding to know why excise minister H. Nagesh was being dropped and R.R. Nagar MLA Munirathna was not inducted, he said, “it is because of their sacrifice you are CM today…instead, you are making Yogeshwar a Minister, who has fraud and cheating cases against him.

Why are you making him minister, is he blackmailing you?”, he asked.

Honnali MLA and chief minister’s political secretary M.P. Renukacharya, another ministerial aspirant, has expressed his displeasure, stating that the government was limited to two districts and that the chief minister and party leaders have to look into it.

“Injustice has happened to Hyderabad Karnataka, central and coastal Karnataka regions. It (government or cabinet) is limited to Bengaluru and Belagavi….I’m upset, to whom should I tell this,” he told reporters, adding that he has never lobbied for a Ministerial post and cannot set aside his self-respect.

Considered a Yediyurappa loyalist, Renukacharya, who met party General Secretary in-charge of the state Arun Kumar on his arrival at the airport today, also expressed reservations about five MLCs in the cabinet.

“We have been elected by the people (As MLAs), what’s the use?”

Six time MLA G.H. Thippareddy, who represents Chitradurga constituency and has been sulking for some time now said he feels “let down” after being in politics for five decades and as a legislator for 30 years, as he did not get an opportunity to serve the people as minister.

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Expressing surprise over MLC Yogeshwar being named as minister, he said more than half the ministers in the cabinet are either from Bengaluru or Belagavi and that some who worked against the interest of the party during elections have also been made ministers.

With the induction of Limbavali, Yediyurappas cabinet will now have eight ministers representing Bengaluru, followed by Belgavi five, with the induction of Katti.

Bommanahalli MLA M Satish Reddy asked what yardstick Yediyurappa had adopted in selection of Ministers and said the absence of late Union Minister Ananthkumar, “who had an ear for our woes – is very clear.”

“…you (Yediurappa), state and central leaders can’t see honest young workers?” he questioned.

Senior MLA from Krishnaraja constituency S.A. Ramadass said he has been serving the party for 28 years.

“Injustice has happened to old Mysuru region. Any other party MLA from the Mysuru could have been made Minister.”

From the beginning the cabinet expansion was being seen as a tightrope walk for the chief minister, considering that there are too many aspirants, from the party old guard to Congress- JD(S) rebels who are now BJP legislators.

The cabinet currently has 27 members and seven berths are vacant.

With the induction of seven ministers and dropping of H Nagesh from the ministry there will be one berth that will be vacant in the state cabinet.

(With inputs from PTI)