Just two days after 24 legislators of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were named to head various boards and corporations run by the Karnataka government, there is mounting speculation that changes are in the offing for the saffron party-led government, including a cabinet expansion and reshuffle.
Eight term legislator and ministerial aspirant Umesh Katti, speaking to reporters in Chikkodi on Wednesday, said that the time is not far off when he and G H Thippa Reddy would-be ministers. Thippa Reddy is a BJP MLA from Chitradurga and was amongst the 24 nominated to head various boards and corporations. He had, however, rejected the offer to head the Devraj Urs Backward Classes Corporation saying ‘the offer was an insult to him’ as he was a senior MLA and a ministerial aspirant.
Subsequently, four names, including him, that had been announced were withdrawn by the government. Katti hinted that he and Thippa Reddy would be amongst those who would join the cabinet during the upcoming reshuffle. “It is the prerogative of the CM to decide on the cabinet. I am confident that both Thippa Reddy and I, who are senior MLA’s, will be in the cabinet shortly.”
Meanwhile, a couple of cabinet ministers in the Yediyurappa ministry rushed to Delhi to meet the leaders of the BJP high command. Deputy CM Lakshman Savadi, who is camping in Delhi for the last three days, speaking to reporters said that he was not an aspirant for the CM’s post and Yediyurappa would continue in that position for the next three years.
He also claimed that he was not in the national capital to lobby for any position but to meet union ministers regarding pending works of his department. Savadi handles the transport portfolio. Shashikalla Jolle, minister of women and child development also rushed to Delhi to meet party leaders. Several loyalist MLAs of the party are also upset at being offered ‘insignificant’ and ‘non-lucrative’ chairmanships of boards and corporations while defectors from Congress and JDS have been made ministers.
Apart from Thippa Reddy, Mudigere MLA MP Kumaraswamy too had publicly expressed his unhappiness. Kumaraswamy refused to become the Chairman of Karnataka Marketing and Consulting Agencies Ltd saying he does not want the position and had even boycotted the first expansion of the Yediyurappa cabinet after being denied a berth.
A senior cabinet minister speaking to HT on condition of anonymity said, “Four to six minister may be dropped and others were given an opportunity. Talk of the CM himself being replaced is all hogwash. At least immediately it will not happen.”
Noted political analyst professor Harish Ramaswamy said that the BJP in Karnataka had a task on its hands in finding a successor to Yediyurappa as well as in keeping MLAs who have been with the party for a long time happy. “To form the government, the defectors were rewarded with ministerships and now there is a backlash from the loyalists. The party has to do a delicate balancing act even as in the mid to long term it has to find a successor to replace Yediyurappa.”