Udupi-Chikkamagaluru and Vice President of BJP Karnataka MP Shobha Karandlaje was on Wednesday inducted into the Union Cabinet in the first reshuffle of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second term in power. She is among three woman MPs from the state alongside independent candidate Sumalatha Ambareesh and BJP's Mangala Angadi. Shobha has served as a minister in the state cabinet and her selection also means a representative from coastal Karnataka is a part of the Union cabinet. She won the 2019 Lok Sabha election with a huge margin of 3.49 lakh votes, the biggest margin for a woman candidate from Karnataka.
Reports had earlier suggested that the BJP was looking to elevate one leader from the Vokkaliga community and Pratap Simha, the MP from Mysuru was the other name in the running. But the party has decided to give the cabinet berth to Shobha Karandlaje.
A member of the ABVP, then the Rashtra Seva Samiti (Women's wing of the RSS) and finally a leader of the BJP- Shobha has grown in the party over the years. Known as BS Yediyurappa's protege, Shobha was first made a member of the Karnataka Legislative Council in 2004. In 2008, she became a legislator from Yeshwanthpur constituency. She has held several portfolios in the Karnataka government including Food and Civil Supplies, Energy and Rural Development and Panchayat Raj. She faced much resistance from some of her male colleagues in the cabinet and was forced to resign in 2009 as a compromise between Yediyurappa and his rival in the party- Janardhana Reddy.
She had resigned from the BJP along with Yediyurappa and several others and joined the KJP in 2012 and worked as the party’s working president. She made a comeback into the BJP in 2014. She was then elected as a Member of Parliament for two consecutive terms.
Shobha Karandlaje has courted her fair share of controversies during her time as the MP of Udupi-Chikkamagaluru. Alongside fighting a perception in Udupi that she has neglected the constituency since 2014, Shobha has been called out for making several false statements aggravating communal tensions in the state.
In 2017, she was booked for spreading enmity between two communities by Honnavar Police after she wrongly alleged that ‘jihadis’ had raped and attempted to kill a 14-year-old girl. In December 2017, she was booked again for provoking people to cause riots, disturbing communal harmony and spreading rumours over the rape and murder of a Dalit girl in Vijayapura.
In January 2020, she was booked by Kerala police after she falsely claimed that Hindu families in Malappuram were not given water for supporting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). In May 2021, a complaint was filed against her with the Pandeshwar Police in Mangaluru for falsely claiming that Christians are against vaccines.