BJP’s new headache in Karnataka - a cabinet reshuffle

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

BANGALORE - The resignation of the lone woman minister from Karnataka’s Bharatiya Janata Party government Monday to appease the dissidents has not only created a second vacancy in the B.S. Yeddyurappa cabinet but a new headache to the party in filling them up.

V. Somanna, who was taken in the ministry after he joined the party on leaving the Congress, was defeated in the August bypoll and had to quit, leaving one vacant slot in the 34-strong ministry.

Karnataka can have only 34-member ministry, including the chief minister, as per constitutional provisions which restrict the strength of the ministry to 15 per cent of the assembly strength. Karnataka assembly has 225 members, including one nominated member.

The vacancies are not likely to be filled any soon as the dissidents, who gave up the demand for Yeddyurappa’s removal after a truce was brokered by senior leader Sushma Swaraj, are seeking the scalp of at least five more ministers.

The rebels led by Tourism Minister G. Janardhana Reddy and his elder brother and Revenue Minister G. Karunakara Reddy are persuading assembly Speaker Jagadish Shettar to return to active politics by joining the ministry.

The dissidents had propped up Shettar as an alternative but the BJP central leaders did not favour replacing Yeddyurappa, at least for now.

Shettar is said to be reluctant to join the ministry alone. He is believed to have told the Reddy brothers as well as Yeddyurappa, who met him here Monday, that he would like some of his associates also to be taken in the ministry.

Shettar was reluctant to take up the speaker’s post when the BJP formed its first ministry in Karntaka in May last year. He is unhappy with Yeddyurappa whom he holds responsible for denial of a political post.

With rebels projecting Shettar as an alternative to him, Yeddyurappa has been telling the media that it was the party central leaders, and not he, who decided that Shettar should be the speaker.

Shettar is a prominent leader from north Karnataka and, like Yeddyurappa, belongs to Lingayat community. The BJP enjoys strong support in north Karnataka as well as in the Lingayat community.

With the compromise formula worked out by Swaraj weakening his position vis–vis dissidents, Yeddyurappa has left the matter to the central leaders who are to constitute coordination and core committees with Swaraj playing a key role in Karnataka affairs.

To the query about whom the dissidents want to be dropped from the ministry and who the replacement are, Yeddyurappa’s standard response has been: “All these will be decided by the core committee in the next few days.”

Filed under: Politics

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