Bengaluru: Karnataka will have three deputy chief ministers for the first time, as B.S. Yediyurappa on Monday allocated portfolios to 17 newly appointed ministers who were inducted into the cabinet nearly a week ago.
Among the three deputy CMs are Govind Karjol, who has also been given the charge of PWD and social welfare; Ashwath Narayan with the portfolios of higher education, IT & BT and science and technology; and Laxman Savadi with the transport portfolio.
Basavaraj Bommai was given the home portfolio.
While Jagadish Shettar, a former chief minister, has been made the minister for large and medium scale industries, two former deputy CMs, K.S. Eshwarappa and R. Ashoka, were given the charge of rural development and panchayat raj, and revenue department respectively.
Senior ST leader B. Sriramulu is the health and family welfare minister, while S. Suresh Kumar, a Brahmin, has been given the charge of primary and secondary education, along with Sakala.
Portfolios of other ministers include: V. Somanna (housing), C.T. Ravi (tourism, kannada and culture), Basavaraj Bommai (home), Kota Shrinivas Poojari (muzrai, fisheries, ports and inland transport), J.C. Madhuswamy (law, parliamentary affairs and legislation, minor irrigation).
C.C. Patil has been allotted mines and geology, H. Nagesh (excise), Prabhu Chavan (animal husbandry), and Shahsikala Jolle (women and child development).
More than three weeks after he was sworn in as the chief minister, Yediyurappa had expanded his cabinet on August 20 by inducting 17 ministers.
Though the expansion brought an end the nearly month-long wait for the cabinet to take shape, it led to some heartburn in a section of the party as several MLAs continued to make no secret of their displeasure after missing the bus.
Having to walk the tight rope by pacifying disgruntled MLAs and allocating portfolios to new ministers, Yediyurappa had left for Delhi last week to consult the BJP’s central leadership to deal with the situation.
Some disqualified former legislators of the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) [JD(S)] who helped bring down the coalition government headed by H.D. Kumaraswamy reportedly also had piled pressure on Yediyurappa, seeking their pound of flesh and plum portfolios.
Interestingly, Savadi, who was made the deputy CM, is neither a member of the assembly nor the council.
His induction into the cabinet had created resentment among several senior BJP legislators, including eight-time Hukkeri MLA Umesh Katti and Honnali MLA M.P. Renukacharya.
According to party sources, Savadi, from the dominant Lingayat community to which Yediyurappa also belongs, was considered for the deputy CM post to help the second rung of leadership in the party from the Belagavi region.
Ashwath Narayan, a Vokkaliga, is said to have been rewarded for his role in managing the rebel Congress-JD(S) legislators.
According to the sources, Karjol, a prominent SC leader, is said to have been considered for the deputy CM post for his seniority and organisational skills.
Three deputy CM posts were created and appointments to the post were made under instructions from the party high command, despite Yediyurappa not being keen on having any.
“It is almost clear that three deputy CMs are being appointed to have some control over Yediyurappa and his style of functioning, also aimed at strengthening the party organisation in the state,” a top party functionary said.
Meanwhile, the chief minister is keeping several key portfolios like finance, power, food and civil supplies, irrigation, urban development, Bengaluru development and related affairs with himself.
Some of these portfolios are likely to be allocated to disqualified former Congress or JD(S) MLAs.
Yediyurappa has kept 16 cabinet berths vacant to accommodate some more BJP members, apart from the rebel MLAs.
The then assembly speaker Ramesh Kumar had disqualified 17 Congress and JD(S) MLAs under the anti-defection law, which has been challenged before the Supreme Court. If they get relief from the apex court, some will be inducted into the cabinet as per the arrangement agreed upon, BJP sources said.