Karnataka may soon have 5 Deputy CM, speculation rife about creating more
Bengaluru, Dec 16: As Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa plans expansion of his Ministry, speculations are rife within the state BJP about creating more posts of Deputy Chief Minister or the coveted position being removed altogether, given the growing number of aspirants. There are already three Deputy Chief Ministers in the cabinet- Govind Karjol, C N Ashwathnarayan and Laxman Savadi.
Amid speculation that at least two more such posts would be created during the coming cabinet expansion, Savadi on Sunday termed it as a 'creation of the media' and said there was no confusion within BJP on this. Everyone in the party would abide by the high command's decision on the matter, he said.
"There have been no such discussions, its only a creation of the media. On such issues, the party's state and national leadership will decide," he said to a query about the demand for at least two more Deputy Chief Minister's posts and also talk of such a position being removed all together.
Noting that there have been instances in the past when Deputy Chief Ministers were appointed by the high command, he said "three of us are DCMs now... whatever the party leadership decides next, we will abide by it. While there is talk within BJP that newly elected BJP MLA from Gokak, Ramesh Jarkiholi, who was earlier disqualified as Congress legislator for his instrumental role in bringing down the Congress-JD(S) coalition government, was being considered for the post, health minister Sriramulu is reportedly sulking with his chances looking dim. Sriramulu, who had earlier openly expressed his desire for the post, has not been attending official engagements for the last few days.
Clarifying on the issue, Sriramulu said several people from the Backward Classes, SC and ST community have demanded that he become the Deputy Chief Minister. "...So such reports are coming out in the media. I have not spoken or debated on the issue so far.. the party will decide. Due to some personal work I was away and had taken permission from the Chief Minister." With several others aspiring for the post, party sources said there are also voices within about removing the post altogether with the incumbents continuing as cabinet Ministers of portfolios they already hold.
The appointment of Savadi and Ashwath Narayan as Deputy Chief Ministers had led to discontent among several senior party legislators. Meanwhile, among the three who currently hold the post, Savadi's fate hangs in the balance as he is neither a member of the Assembly nor the Council. He can continue as non-legislator Minister for six months till February. However, according to sources, he may be made MLC as one seat held by Congress' Rizwan Arshad is currently vacant, following his election as MLA during the bypolls.
Also, Yediyurappa's assurance during the bypoll campaign that Savadi would remain in office for the full term, in an attempt to pacify him, sulking over being denied party ticket to contest from Athani, adds credibility to his MLC chances. Yediyurappa has indicated that the ministry expansion is likely to take place after December 20 or 22 after discussions with the high command. It will not be an easy task as the Chief Minister will have to strike a balance by accommodating the victorious disqualified legislators as he had promised and also make place for old guards, upset at being "neglected" in the first round of the induction exercise. With Yediyurappa making it clear that 11 disqualified MLAs (of the total of 13 fielded by BJP) who successfully contested the bypolls on party tickets,will be made Ministers, many senior party MLAs are lobbying hard for their induction.
Demanding representation for central Karnataka's Davangere district in the cabinet, party MP Siddeshwara said "we have demanded one Minister's post from the region. CM has said he will discuss....we are confident of getting representation." Senior party MLA from Chitradurga Thippareddy said he should be made a minister considering his seniority and pointed out that he had missed an opportunity last time too. Yediyurappa, during the cabinet expansion, will also have to deal with the demand for induction of two disqualified MLAs who had contested the bypolls on the BJP ticket but lost and also allocation of key portfolios. He also has to give adequate representation to various castes and regions in his cabinet, that currently has 18 ministers, including the Chief Minister and the sanctioned strength is 34.