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K’taka to have 3 deputy CMs as BSY allocates portfolios

Bengaluru: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of Karnataka on Monday named Govind Karjol, CN Ashwath Nnarayan and Laxman Savadi as deputy chief ministers in a move that caused rumblings of discontent among more senior cabinet colleagues of chief minister BS Yediyurappa.

Seventeen ministers were inducted into the Cabinet last week. The portfolio allocations were made after more than a week and needed two trips by chief minister BS Yediyurappa to New Delhi for discussions with the party’s central leadership.

Karjol was given the sought-after public works department, Narayan the higher education portfolio and Savadi transport. The choices also indicates caste combinations that the BJP is trying to cater to, Karjol hails from a scheduled caste community. The other two hail from the dominant castes in the state — Ashwath Narayan is a Vokkaliga and Savadi a Lingayat.

Among the senior ministers, former chief minister Jagadish Shettar was handed large and medium industries, former deputy chief minister KS Eshwarappa the rural development portfolio, and another former deputy chief minister, R Ashok, the revenue ministry.

Basavaraj Bommai is the new home minister, B Sreeramulu the health minister, S Suresh Kumar the primary and secondary education minister, JC Madhuswamy the law and parliamentary affairs minister, and CT Ravi the tourism minister.

Shashikala Jolle, the lone woman in the Cabinet, was given the women and child development portfolio. Independent MLA H Nagesh was handed the excise portfolio.

The list of portfolios came after much delay and caused a few nervous moments although chief minister Yediyurappa had said in the morning: “A list with the portfolio allocation will be sent to the governor and by evening it will be released.”

As the Cabinet met at 4 pm, there was no sign of an announcement, which had been expected on Saturday but was put off after the demise of former Union minister Arun Jaitley.

Even as the announcement was awaited, there was speculation about three deputy chief ministers being appointed and this was enough to trigger angst against the party leadership, especially over Ashwath Narayan, a first-time minister, and Savadi, who is not a member of either house of the legislature, being among the contenders

Senior ministers confirmed that many had expressed reservations over these decisions, but to little avail. “What can be said at this time,” said one minister, “{is that} it is not as if Yediyurappa had much of a say in this matter. Everything has been decided in New Delhi.”

Of the 17 ministers inducted into the Cabinet, seniors like Shettar, Eshwarappa and Ashok were believed to expressed reservations over the appointment of the deputy chief ministers.

Savadi’s inclusion in the Cabinet had already caused heartburn with MLA Umesh Katti kicking up a fuss over his exclusion. Katti and Savadi both hail from the Belagavi district, and a senior minister said that the former’s exclusion was based on the recommendation of the central leadership.

The rumblings of discontent within the BJP have been so evident that former chief minister and Congress legislature party chief Siddaramaiah said on Monday that mid-term polls might be called within a year. “I have asked the workers to strengthen the party and be ready..,” he said. “Nobody believes this government will last very long,” he said.

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