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3-min read

Accommodating K'taka Rebel MLAs, Fissures Within Party: BSY & Co Have Issues Before Forming Cabinet

Disqualified MLAs cannot immediately become ministers, and have moved the Supreme Court against Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar's order to disqualify them. A Cabinet without the rebel MLAs would make the BJP lose their trust, leading to jitters for the newly formed government.

Deepa Balakrishnan | CNN-News18deepab18

Updated:August 3, 2019, 7:39 AM IST
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Accommodating K'taka Rebel MLAs, Fissures Within Party: BSY & Co Have Issues Before Forming Cabinet
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa with Governor Vajubhai Vala after being sworn in on Friday. (PTI)
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Bengaluru: A week has passed since BS Yediyurappa took oath as the chief minister of Karnataka after wresting power from the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) alliance in a numbers test. However, the new Cabinet is yet to be formed as the government is in the throes of a dilemma. Many aspirants are demanding ministerial berths, while the party is also uneasily aware that the 'rebels' must be accommodated in the new Cabinet.

The first indication of a dilemma became evident on Wednesday when Yediyurappa was greeted by members of a particular Panchamshali sub-sect of the Lingayat community, to which he belongs. The delegation said they hoped that at least four or five MLAs from their sub-sect would be included in the new Cabinet. At this, the chief minister reportedly snapped and said, “If so many are to be made ministers, what will the 16 people who resigned do? Are they supposed to drink poison?"

The comment, caught on camera, was the first admission by anyone in the BJP that the 'rebel' MLAs of the JDS and the Congress, the actions of 17 of whom brought down the government, were prompted to do so with promises by the BJP.

The BJP had until recently distanced itself from any association with these rebels, saying the lawmakers had chosen their own paths as they were unhappy with their leadership.

However, on Friday, it became more evident that the BJP is waiting for some clarity on the legal status of the rebels before it can form the Cabinet. Party MLC and spokesperson N Ravikumar told News18 that talks are on with these rebels, who have since been disqualified as MLAs as well.

"Talks are on with our aspirants. It was because of the rebel MLAs who went to Mumbai that we constituted a government here. Everyone knows that. We are very grateful to the rebel MLAs," he told News18 in a candid admission of the BJP's role in getting them to defect from their parties.

Asked how many of the 17 MLAs will be made ministers, he said, "I don't know, but more than 10 are there."

Disqualified MLAs cannot immediately become ministers, and they have moved the Supreme Court against Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar's order to disqualify them. A Cabinet without the rebel MLAs would make the BJP lose their trust, which may cause jitters for the newly formed government.

"That's why we are waiting for the Supreme Court's intervention. We will wait for four or five days. After that our chief minister and elders in the BJP will sit with the rebel MLAs and then only constitute ministries," Ravikumar told News18.

The date of the Supreme Court hearing is not yet known, though the MLAs are trying to press for a quick hearing.

Meanwhile, Yediyurappa is expected to visit New Delhi to consult the party high command early next week on the Cabinet formation.

In the meantime, there are internal rumblings within the BJP about the rebels and their acceptance into the party, particularly in Bengaluru. These include MLAs like Muniratna, who faces several criminal cases. The BJP itself had lodged complaints against Muniratna attempting to fudge voter ID cards during the Assembly election. In fact, the election to his constituency RR Nagar had been postponed owing to these allegations. A few in the BJP have started sounding off the party high command against inducting him.

Similarly, others like Byrathi Basavaraj and Roshan Baig are not being welcomed with open arms either. Baig comes with his own baggage of allegations in criminal cases, including possible involvement the IMA Ponzi scam worth over Rs 2,000 crore.

Ravikumar, however, refuted reports of the differences within the party. "There is no such problem with anybody, with rebel MLAs or the present BJP MLAs. No such type of disturbance is there," he said, adding that the final decision will be taken only after all-round consultations.

The BJP’s dilemma hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Congress and the JDS as the two took to Twitter on Friday to taunt the saffron party.

Calling Yediyurappa a 'backdoor CM,' Karnataka Congress asked him why the Cabinet was yet to be expanded.

"Why do you impose the problems of the difference between RSS and BJP on the people of the state? Why has the administrative machinery come to a halt? How many more days must the people wait for Ministers and development works?" the party asked.

The JDS also tweeted that Yediyurappa was wasting time, bringing administration to a standstill by not forming the Council of Ministers for an entire week, despite the state suffering from drought in many areas.

"For the common man, this is a sort of government comprising 'disgruntled spirits'," the JDS said in reference to the rebel MLAs' remarks earlier saying they were "disgruntled" with the JDS-Congress alliance.

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