Excluded from BSY ministry, senior BJP MLAs ask why

Governor Vajubhai Vala administers the oath of office and secrecy to Shashikala Jolle as CM B S Yediyurappa looks on. (PTI)

A day after expansion of the B S Yediyurappa Cabinet in Karnataka, some dissidence seems to brewing among a section of ruling BJP legislators who were expecting to be made ministers, with many of them expressing unhappiness over being left out even as the Chief Minister tried to assuage feelings of some.

Yediyurappa, who was running a one-man government since July 26, inducted 17 new members into his Cabinet on Tuesday – several ministers are seen as his loyalists.

On Wednesday, as many as six MLAs who failed to find a place in the ministry expressed disappointment in public. Overlooked in favour of Laxman Savadi, who lost the 2018 Assembly polls, eight-time MLA Umesh Katti from Belagavi region has emerged as a rallying point for party legislators MLAs who are disappointed over their exclusion.

Read | Cabinet expansion: BS Yediyurappa stamp on 17-member ministry

"I don t know how this (exclusion) happened, said Katti. The MLA and his brother, former MP Ramesh Katti, are considered to be dominant figures but are seen as having been sidelined by the party in recent times. But Katti claimed to be a loyal member of the BJP despite his disappointment.

Chief Minister Yediyurappa on Wednesday said he had reached out to Katti, who had been linked to a possible move to the JD(S) for several months. I spoke with him (Katti) for an hour yesterday. He is obviously pained at not featuring (in the Cabinet). I will work to resolve the issue, Yediyurappa said.


In House, hopes to raise numbers

With 106 MLAs (including the Speaker) in the 224-member Karnataka Assembly, the BJP currently has a thin majority. The Congress, JD(S) and other opposition parties combined have 101 legislators, after disqualification of 17 Congress-JD(S) rebels for anti party activities last month. The BJP is hoping to increase its numbers by getting many of the disqualified MLAs reelected to the Assembly in the event of the Supreme Court delivering a verdict in favour of the ousted MLAs.

Former minister M P Renukacharya, who has been linked to rebellions against Yediyurappa in the past and did not find a place in Tuesday s Cabinet expansion, rallied behind Katti and claimed that the veteran s exclusion was unjust. I am unhappy because those who have lost elections have been made it (to the ministry) while sitting MLAs who could have been made ministers are omitted, he said.

Both Katti and Renukacharya are from the dominant Lingayat community, which has eight members - including Yediyurappa - in the 18-member government.

Another MLA who was confident of getting a look-in was Raju Gowda, alias Narasimha Nayak, a member of Scheduled Tribe Valmiki Nayak community. Expressing disappointment, Gowda, who was part of a rebellion against Yediyurappa in 2009, said: I feel like having been run out on a no-ball. There are 16 MLAs who won from Hyderabad-Karnataka region but no one has been included in the ministry. It is unfortunate that despite all my efforts I was not given entry. I am a disciplined soldier of the party and have age on my side.

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Haladi Srinivas Shetty, a five-time MLA from coastal Karnataka, said, If people elected me five times, am I not worthy of being made a minister?

Goolihatti Shekhar, BJP MLA from central Karnataka who was part of a rebellion against Yediyurappa in 2009 (then as an Independent MLA) also expressed dismay.

Among other legislators who are upset over losing out are C P Yogeshwar, who played a role in luring Congress-JD(S) MLAs to defect in order to topple the previous coalition government; Murugesh Nirani , a close associate of Yediyurappa; S Angara, a party veteran from coastal Karnataka; Balachandra Jharkiholi, one of four brothers dominant in Belagavi region; Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, a former MP; and C M Udasi, a former minister under Yediyurappa during his 2008-11 tenure as CM.