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Yediyurappa still without a cabinet as Shah, Modi look to ‘send Karnataka CM a message’

Since returning to power, Karnataka BJP has made 3 attempts to meet PM Modi & Amit Shah for discussions on cabinet expansion, but with no luck. 

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Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa is struggling to expand his cabinet of one because BJP chief Amit Shah and PM Modi are yet to grant him an audience for discussions on the matter, ThePrint has learnt.

Yediyurappa took office as Karnataka CM on 26 July, after weeks of drama that saw 17 defections weaken the preceding Congress-JD(S) government and cause its collapse. 

However, two weeks later, he remains the only member of the Karnataka cabinet, with the BJP brass yet to give him the green signal for expansion. There are 33 ministerial berths to be filled, excluding the chief minister. 

Since a day before Yediyurappa assumed the CM’s chair, the Karnataka BJP has attempted meetings with Shah and PM Narendra Modi thrice, but not succeeded so far. The first came on 25 July, when former CM Jagadish Shettar went to meet Shah. However, he had to come back as Shah did not have the time, sources in the Karnataka BJP told ThePrint. 

The sources said a second appointment was cancelled because Shah was busy ahead of the Modi government’s decision to revoke Article 370. The third attempt saw Yediyurappa land in Delhi Tuesday, but senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj died the same day and the meeting was again called off.

A source in the chief minister’s office confirmed that, on the third occasion, the CM was asked to return to Bengaluru to tend to the flood situation in north Karnataka first, and visit again after a few days.

Yediyurappa’s home district of Shivamogga is among 11 districts affected by a spell of heavy rains in the state.

‘Walking on thin ice’

A senior Karnataka BJP leader told ThePrint that the Delhi leadership was likely to decide on the ministerial berths only after the Supreme Court takes a call on the Speaker’s decision to disqualify 14 rebel MLAs of the Congress and the JD(S), or it would cause huge cracks within the party. Altogether, 17 MLAs were disqualified, but three haven’t moved court.

The case is due for hearing Friday, and the source added that Shah was expected to meet Yediyurappa Saturday to finalise the names of 15 probables. 

“He (Yediyurappa) is walking on thin ice and one wrong decision would upset the applecart,” the leader added.

Sources in the party told ThePrint that Shah and Modi were unable to meet Yediyurappa and his team as they were busy with the Article 370 matter, but added that the duo might also want Yediyurappa to get the message that decisions will be taken at their pace, not his.

Also read: Alliance govt gone, Congress and JD(S) are back to being rivals in Karnataka

A deft calculation required

One of the major challenges facing cabinet formation in Karnataka is the rebel MLAs, many of whom were allegedly induced to split from the Congress and the JD(S) with promises of cabinet berths. 

However, former assembly speaker Ramesh Kumar disqualified them last month, thus barring them from contesting even by-elections until the term of the current assembly expires in 2023.

Fourteen rebels have challenged their disqualification in the apex court, and a lot depends on what the court decides. 

If it upholds the Speaker’s decision, the BJP can stop worrying about accommodating the rebels and appoint senior party leaders as ministers.  

If the SC court nullifies the disqualification, Yediyurappa and the BJP brass will have to carefully decide who to make ministers, since many of the rebels bore grudges against their original parties only for being overlooked in cabinet formation.

A Karnataka BJP leader told ThePrint that the high command may allow 12-15 seats for the rebels, leaving around 18 for BJP leaders.  

“For the last few months, Yediyurappa has been telling us to be mentally prepared to make sacrifices. We are ready to do so only for the sake of the party,” the leader told The Print.

‘A misconception’

Yediyurappa has been sworn in as CM four times, but two of the tenures ended in days. The longest ran from 2008 to 2011, predating Modi-Shah’s ascent in central BJP, and saw him handpick his cabinet. 

But the call is no longer his, or so it seemed when his recommendation for the Speaker’s chair, former speaker and senior leader K.G. Bopaiah, was shot down by Shah, who chose six-time MLA Vishweshwar Kageri for the post.

However, Bengaluru-based political analyst Mahadev Prakash said it was a “misconception” that Yediyurappa’s hands were tied. 

“Bopaiah’s name was dropped as he is facing a very serious allegation for an act on the floor of the House in 2012 (Bopaiah was speaker when three BJP MLAs were caught watching a blue film inside the assembly),” he added.

“Cabinet expansion is not a simple issue as they have to ensure that their decision can provide a stable government. When so much work was being done to ensure that Article 370 is scrapped, how can one expect the BJP leadership to take a decision on Karnataka?” he said. 

Another political commentator, Sandeep Shastri, said the current situation in the BJP was similar to that of the Congress in the 1970s, under former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. 

The fact that Yediyurappa feels that he needs to consult the high-command for every decision typically reflects how much control the central BJP has over state affairs. 

“The CM has very little manoeuvrability and Modi-Shah want to call the shots, as we saw in the Speaker’s appointment… Also, a similar situation will arise in the elections involving the rebels,” he said.

Also read: Congress must not go BJP way in Karnataka. Wait for the Brutus to strike


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  1. His 6 to 6:30 pm swearing in as CM was not good time. Hia ASSTROLOGER made serious mistakes.Hire new one to see when is good day and time to meet Hon’ble PM Modi and Home minister Amit shah.

  2. And BJP claims that unlike Congress it has no high command culture. If CM has no authority to select his own Ministers, then he is not not CM but CPM, Chief Puppet Minister. Moreover, BJP leaders in turn are remote controlled by RSS a fact which used to be questioned by Media during Vajpayee term. Now all are silent

  3. I think Shah is a very shrewd politician and I won’t be surprised if he realizes that BJP’s best interest is in cutting Yedurappa to size and getting rid of rebels. I wish they dissolve the assembly, put Yedurappa in Marg Darshak Mandal, and have fresh elections. Come to power and have a fresh, young face who can be an effective BJP chief minister in Karnataka helping BJP grow in the south. Even if they want to stick with Yudurappa for now, it would be good if he comes back after a fresh election.

  4. This situation is like being a headmaster in a single teacher school. Pity, this situation has arisen because of limitless lust for power.

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