Team BSY in Karnataka BJP creates history-of-sorts with three Deputy Chief Ministers
Exactly one month after B.S. Yediyurappa took over as the chief minister, he allots portfolios to his ministers. This is a record by itself. Amit Shah keeps an eagle’s eye on the happenings in Karnataka government to make sure that the ministers do not repeat their mistake of their abominable behavior which was the hallmark in the previous BJP regime. Image, credibility and reputation of the Karnataka government are the priority of the central leadership besides remarkable performance.
Karnataka is setting precedents one after another. In the first of its kind in the annals of its history Karnataka has now got three Deputy Chief Ministers in the second BJP government headed by chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.
That this excruciating exercise of forming the ministry taking into consideration into castes and region was not easy goes without saying. And again, perhaps, for the first time, the BJP central leadership –read Amit Shah in particular – had its firm and indelible imprint on the ministry thus sending out a clear message that the iron-fist with velvet gloves of the central leadership will brook no nonsense and means business when it comes to governance and maintaining discipline, dignity and decorum by the ministers.
Yet, when the portfolios were announced two weeks of forming the ministry, there were murmers of C.T. Ravi and R. Ashok expressing their displeasure on the allotment of portfolio but they dared not to come out in open, fearing inviting the wrath of the central leadership. This is the kind of eagles eye that Amit Shah has kept on the happenings in Karnataka BJP.
- T. Ravi, a Vokkaliga leader from the picturesque Malnad district of Chickamagalur is reported to be sulking for getting the portfolio of tourism, Kannada and Culture, the departments relatively less important when compared to Higher Education which he held in the previous tenure between 2008 and 2013.
Similarly, R. Ashok, another powerful Vokkaliga leader from Bangalore, was conspicuous by his absence at the function where Nalin Kumar Kateel took charge as Party President of state unit on Tuesday (27th Aug0. Ashok is apparently angry for not making him the Deputy Chief Minister, which he held in the previous BJP regime with two powerful portfolios of Transport and Home. Now, he has been given Revenue, which, of course, is equally important but without making him Deputy Chief Minister.
The ministry formation exercise has been excruciating not only because of the difficulty in accommodating a number of aspirants within the BJP but more importantly the saffron party has factor in to attend the ministerial needs of 17 rebel MLAs of the Congress and JDS who resigned from their respective parties but who stands disqualified. However, their petition challenging disqualification is being heard by the Supreme Court. Depending upon the outcome of the apex court verdict, Yediyurappa has to decide ways and means to meet the aspirations of the Congress and JDS MLAs because of whom the BJP managed to occupy power.
But what has raised eyebrows and also created a flutter besides discontentment in the BJP ranks and MLAs is the appointment of Lakshman Savadi, as one of the three Deputy Chief Minister. Savadi lost the 2018 Assembly elections from Athani in Belagavi district. “How and why a defeated person has been made the Deputy Chief Minister” is the question that is bogging everybody’s mind.
The choice of three DCMs is not without any significance. While Dr Ashwathnarayan, MLA from Malleshwaram Constituency in Bangalore city, belongs to the politically crucial and economically significant Vokkaliga community, Govind Karjol belongs to the SC from Bagalkot district. He is a senior leader who is groomed by Late Ramakrishna Hegde in the Janata Pariwar and the third is Lakshman Savadi, a Lingayat from Belagavi district.
On the other hand there are two more former DCMs in BJP – R. Ashok (Vokkaliga) and K.S. Eshwarappa (Kuruba) – who are reportedly not too happy with the arrangement. But they also realize that they are unable to do anything as the party’s Central Leadership is monitoring the developments.
There is one more DCM aspirant – B. Sriramulu belonging to the Nayaka Community (ST) who too is reportedly sulking for having missed the bus. So much so, Sriramulu’s supporters burnt the effigy of Amit Shah in Ballari, of course, without realizing its consequences. If in any case, Shah takes this incident seriously, then it can be the political death-knell for Sriramulu.
Party sources told Uday India that the absence of R. Ashok in the function where Nalin Kumar Kateel took charge and the sudden departure of Sriramulu from the event has been taken note of by Amit Shah. It remains to be seen as to what would be the consequences of this open rebellion by Ashok.
Though it is being said that the Central Leadership decided to have three DCMs to control Yediyurappa, the chief minister, however, has maintained that the decentralization of work will hasten developmental activities with decision making becoming easy and less cumbersome.
“It is all a figment of imagination that the party’s central leadership seeks to curtail my powers. I am extremely happy with the present arrangement. I compliment Amit Shah ji for thinking of an mechanism that seeks to make the functioning of the government smooth. Both the Prime Minister and Home Minister are aware of the importance of the chief minister’s authority,” Yeddyurappa said, while speaking with Uday India.
Karnataka being a bi-cameral legislature – both Assembly and Council – the strength of the ministry cannot exceed beyond 34 including the chief minister. As of now there are 17 ministers excluding the chief minister. It means that remaining 16 have been reserved for those rebel MLAs belonging to the Congress and JDS. The BJP has also factor in the discontentment brewing in Belagavi district with the non-inclusion of Umesh Katti, a nine-time MLA and a powerful Lingayat leader. It is being said that both Katti and Aravinda Limbavali, a ST leader and General Secretary, would be accommodated in the ministry in the near future.
Inclusion of Katti has become imperative as his stay outside the ministry could pose a problem what with his clout among the Lingayat community as well as his ability for out-reach to other parties. More than excluding Katti, the inclusion of Lakshman Savadi, a defeated candidate, and making him DCM, has caused heartburn among the cadre. It is believed that Yediyurappa has spoken to Amit Shah the imperativeness of taking Katti into cabinet, lest it becomes a sore point.
The murmers in the BJP ministerial aspirants and discontentment for not making it to the post of DCM apart from not getting plump posts has been music to the ears of the Opposition, Congress and JDS. Former chief minister and Kuruba strongman Siddaramaiah was quick to react when he said, “This government will not last long. I would give six months to one year to BSY-led regime. They have not been able to pacify their home-grown own MLAs. How will they handle the rebel MLAs of the Congress and JDS. This government is finished.”
But Yediyurappa dismisses Siddaramaiah’s statement as wishful thinking. “We will complete the term and return to power on the basis of our performance. As one man Army I toured the flood-hit areas. Ministry could not be constituted due to unforeseen circumstances including the sad demise of Sushma Swaraj. But I have not left anything to chance. I have geared up the administrative machinery to a significant extent. Still much needs to be done. My government has been responsive, sensitive and pro-active. Congress and JDS may dream of anything but they will be disappointed,” the chief minister added brimming with confidence.
It remains to be seen how far and to what extent the government functions to the satisfaction of the people and also to the satisfaction of the party’s central leadership. It goes without saying that Yediyurappa, indeed, faces a herculean task of governing the state as well as manage the internal contradictions within the BJP and also attend to the needs of the rebel Congress and JDS MLAs. Coming days are interesting for the keen political observers.