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CM walks tightrope as turncoats demand Cabinet berths

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Bengaluru : The argument of not inducting those who lost elections in the Cabinet has come to haunt Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, with BJP leaders questioning why the same logic was not applied to Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi.

Reports of inducting another MLC C P Yogeeshwar has also rattled BJP ranks, especially in districts where the BJP had swept the Assembly polls in 2018. Meanwhile, a section of BJP leaders is also wary that allegations of skewed distribution of MLAs to Bengaluru Urban and Belagavi district might put the saffron party on the back foot, along with the asymmetric representation of different communities in the Cabinet.

BJP leader H Vishwanath, who lost the bypoll from Hunsur constituency, said that he was not ready to accept the argument of the chief minister that inducting those who lost elections would violate the Supreme Court ruling. The apex court decision in November had upheld the disqualification of 17 MLAs who defected to the BJP from the Cong-JD(S) camp, had allowed the MLAs to contest bypolls.

“Saying that there is no provision in law for us (BJP candidates who’d lost bypolls) to hold Cabinet berths is inappropriate,” he said, adding how the chief minister had inducted Savadi, who had lost to Mahesh Kumathalli (in 2018 polls)- who subsequently joined the BJP. Yediyurappa, however, has assured that all 17 defectors will be inducted in the Cabinet.

Similarly, possibilities of including MLC C P Yogeeshwar – said to have played a key role in convincing 17 MLAs to quit the coalition and who also lost the 2018 Assembly polls – has come under criticism from the defectors as well as the BJP loyalists camp.

Apart from this, balancing caste and regional factors in the Cabinet appears to be almost impossible. BJP leaders fear that this could provide ammunition to opposition parties, along with bitterness among senior BJP legislators of districts which have found no representation in the Cabinet.

For instance, inducting 13 ministers would result in Bengaluru Urban district having seven Cabinet berths, followed by Belagavi with five.

In terms of caste, state Cabinet has eight Lingayats, including the chief ministers, three Vokkaligas, three from Scheduled Castes, two OBCs, one each from Scheduled Tribe and Brahmin community. The induction of new ministers will add two more ministers from Lingayat community – Umesh Katti and B C Patil – increasing the number of Lingayats to 11, which is more than one-third the Cabinet strength.