Amid delay on the decision of cabinet expansion in Karnataka, the state got 14 new cabinet minister-rank functionaries and four new minister of state-rank functionaries on Wednesday.
In a move to mollify BJP MLAs whose work has been recognised but for whom there is no vacancy in the cabinet, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa appointed 13 MLAs as chairpersons to state-run boards and corporations. The notification also stated the rank would be equivalent to that of a cabinet minister.
A 14th appointment is of a retired information department officer as the media advisor to the CM, also with cabinet rank. Four other MLAs have been appointed with minister of state-ranks to other boards and corporations, as well. The appointments come with all ministerial perks.
Among the appointees is Siddu Savadi, the BJP MLA from Terdal in Bagalkote district who has been asked to head the Karnataka Handloom Development Corporation. Savadi has been in news for the last one month, after a video of him went viral where he is seen physically assaulting a woman Municipal Council member during a local election. The woman later suffered a miscarriage too.
Yediyurappa has been under considerable pressure to expand his Cabinet, but has not been given a go-ahead from the party high command for many months now. There are 27 ministers in the Cabinet currently, which can have a maximum strength of 34.
Since only seven seats in the Ministry remain to be filled, this has set off many in the BJP vying for the berths against the 'newcomers' or defectors who have moved from Congress and JDS last year. The newcomers have been insisting that they were given a commitment that they would be accommodated in the Cabinet as reward for their 'sacrifice' of leaving their party to facilitate the BJP to come to power. While most have already been accommodated, there are three more who are now demanding their pound of flesh.
The 'original' BJP MLAs have been pleading with the party top brass that there are already too many newcomers in the cabinet and now they must be rewarded for their loyalty -- and there are at least six to seven aspirants, some of whom are as senior as eight-time MLAs.
Typically, chief ministers always leave two or three seats in the Cabinet vacant to keep aspirations high, but even if Yediyurappa decides to fill all seats, he will still caught in a bind between the two factions.
Wednesday's appointments are being seen as a way of keeping at least some claimants happy, and they have been chosen based on their seniority, region and caste.