Yediyurappa expands Cabinet, inducts 10 MLAs who had defected from Congress, JD(S)

Published : February 06, 2020 15:24 IST

Chief Minister Yediyurappa. Photo: G.R.N. Somashekar

In Karnataka, the 10 MLAs who had defected from the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), leading to the spectacular fall of the coalition government in the State last year, finally got their reward when they were inducted into the State Cabinet on Thursday. The BJP had fielded 13 of 17 disqualified MLAs in the 15 seats for which byelections were held in December last year (elections to two constituencies were deferred). Eleven of the defectors won, thus ensuring a simple majority for the BJP in the Assembly. Of them, 10 have now been made Ministers. Mahesh Kumathalli, the MLA from Athani, is the only one who missed out.

Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa had assured the MLAs who defected that they would be given ministerial positions, but lobbying and factional dissidence led to the inordinate delay–it has been almost two months since the results of the byelections were declared. The move has caused resentment among the MLAs of the BJP and regional grouses have come to the fore. The party’s MLAs from Kalyana Karnataka (the northeastern part of Karnataka formerly known as Hyderabad-Karnataka) and coastal Karnataka were especially peeved that their regions have been underrepresented in the Cabinet. Two of the MLAs who defected, A.H. Vishwanath and N. Nagaraj (MTB), lost the byelections but still expressed dismay that they had not been inducted into the Cabinet.

While discussions about the Cabinet expansion were proceeding over the past two months, there was a widespread perception that the central leadership of the BJP was not supporting Yediyurappa in fulfilling his promise to the MLAs who defected. The 10 MLAs who have joined the State Cabinet are S.T. Somashekar (Yeshwantpur), Shrimant Balasaheb Patil (Kagwad), K. Sudhakar (Chikkaballapura), Ramesh Jarkiholi (Gokak), Anand Singh (Vijayanagar), B.C. Patil (Hirekerur), K.C. Narayana Gowda (K.R. Pet), A. Shivaram Hebbar (Yellapur), K. Gopaliah (Mahalakshmi Layout) and Byrathi Basavaraj (Krishnarajapuram).

Considering the size of Karnataka’s Legislative Assembly, the Cabinet can have 34 Ministers. With this expansion, the number of Ministers stands at 27. While the BJP government is on a firm footing now and does not face any serious threat to its stability, it will be interesting to see how Yediyurappa balances the resentment of loyal BJP MLAs.