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Karnataka cabinet expansion on Feb 6: Signs of dissatisfaction, intense lobbying in party

By PTI
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Bengaluru, Feb 03: A wave of dissatisfaction has hit the six-month-old BJP government against the backdrop of Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa's announcement to induct 13 aspirants in the second cabinet expansion on February 6.

Dissatisfaction, intense lobbying ahead of Feb 6 cabinet expansion in Karnataka

In the first cabinet expansion, the Chief Minister hadinducted 17 ministers on August 20, 2019. Among the 13, ten will be those defectors from Congress and the JD(S) who were disqualified earlier and won the assembly by-election in December last year. The rest will be the 'native BJP leaders', as Deputy Chief Minister Govind Karjol put it.

Speculations are rife that Mahadevapura MLA Arvind Limbavali, Hukkeri MLA Umesh Katti and C P Yogeshwar, who had lost to H D Kumaraswamy from Channapatna assembly segment, would be inducted. If Yogeshwar is included in the cabinet then he will be the second minister after Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi who had lost and yet made it to the cabinet.

The possible induction of Yogeshwar and Savadi, who was made Deputy Chief Minister despite losing the Assembly elections, are also a "reason" for discontent in the BJP. Hectic activities began in the power corridor and MLAsstarted forming groups to impress upon the Chief Minister toinclude their members in the ministry.

While one group was from the "Kalyana Karnataka" region, the others were the defectors who will be excluded in the cabinet expansion. A few MLAS from 'Kalyana Karnataka' region or erstwhileHyderabad-Karnataka region comprising six districts, met atthe Legislature Home and held a meeting.

The meeting was led by Shorapur MLA Narasimha Nayak aka Raju Gouda and Honnalli MLA M P Renukacharya. The MLAs of theKalyana Karnataka region were unanimous that their backward region should get representation in the cabinet. Later, Gouda met the Chief Minister and requested that their region be given adequate representation in the cabinet, which is lacking development.

Talking to reporters, Gouda said, "We had given representations to all the MPs, MLAs and the Chief Minister. Today also we all had a meeting and later called on the ChiefMinister requesting him to make any MLA from our region aminister."

He said any imbalance in cabinet expansion will causetrouble to the MLAs from Kalyana Karnataka region. "If you make the defeated candidates ministers then include 120 people in the cabinet," an aggrieved Gouda taunted.

Renukacharya too echoed the same sentiments. "If you givepreference to the defeated candidates then what will happen tothose who won the election? Where should the winners ofelection go? We emphasise upon giving preference to thewinners."

On the other hand, the defectors who jumped the Congress and the JD(S) ship and helped form the BJP government too had a meeting in Bengaluru, said BJP sources. They were unanimous that not only the 11 MLAs who won theelection be made ministers but also A H Vishwanath and M T BNagaraj who had unsuccessfully contested the assembly by- polls from Hunasuru and Hoskote on a BJP ticket.

Vishwanath, who was quite vocal on Sunday for dropping hisname, was mellowed down on Monday after meeting Yediyurappa. However, his insistence for getting a cabinet berthremained intact.

"I did not make any proposal before him and will not do itin future because he (Yediyurappa) knows what has to be done,"Vishwanath told reporters after meeting the Chief Minister. When he was reminded of Yediyurappa's statement that therewere legal complications in making him a minister, Vishwanathsaid, "This government has legal experts and the advocategeneral. They will speak."

Amid speculations that Athani MLA Mahesh Kumathalli maynot get a cabinet berth in the reshuffle, the defected MLAsled by Gokak BJP MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi, had a meeting to decidetheir future strategy, said party sources. Currently, there are 18 ministers, including the chiefminister, in the cabinet, which has a sanctioned strength of34.

Sixteen berths are vacant. The cabinet expansion exercise will be a delicate task for Yediyurappa as he has to ensure adequate representation for various castes and regions. The ministry already has eight Lingayats, including Yediyurappa; three Vokkaligas; a Brahmin; three SCs, two OBCs and one ST.

Opposition parties have been critical of the BJP and Yediyurappa over the delay in the cabinet expansion, alleging he is weak and his administration has collapsed. Reacting to the cabinet expansion, former Chief MinisterSiddaramaiah quipped, "A drama is taking place. Let it happenon Feburary 6. Afterwards we will see what all happens."

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