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Two Days into Office, Basavaraj Bommai Faces Tough Choices as Lobbying Begins for Cabinet Posts

New Karnataka CM Basavaraj S Bommai with his predecessor BS Yediyurappa.

New Karnataka CM Basavaraj S Bommai with his predecessor BS Yediyurappa.

As the defectors hope to continue holding the ministries given to them under Yediyurappa, several old timers have expressed anger over the neglect.

Barely two days since Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has taken charge, the MLAs have begun lobbying for a place in his Cabinet. Some of the turncoat MLAs, who moved to BJP from Congress and JDS two years back to facilitate the BJP’s return to power, are spending anxious moments awaiting their fate under the new chief ministers. As they hope to continue holding the ministries assigned to them under BS Yediyurappa, several old timers, who have remained loyal to the party for decades, have expressed anger over being sidelined while the defectors get a large chunk of ministries.

Some of the defectors held plum portfolios like health and agriculture, and they are hoping that the party would continue its commitment to them so that they remain in the Cabinet. They have been asking for the same portfolios under the new chief minister.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai will be in Delhi on Friday to consult with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others in the BJP top brass before finalising the Cabinet.

Some MLAs, who are senior to Bommai, including former CM Jagdish Shettar, have already declared that they won’t work under him. However, other veteran MLAs, who have not got any ministry for many decades, still want a slot in the new Cabinet even as they have been long ignored by the party.

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Further, some ministers, who were in BSY’s Cabinet, are eyeing the post of deputy chief minister, which the party is understood to be considering in order to keep the major communities happy. A few caste groups have also started lobbying for their communities, and even sub-sects, to get representation in the Cabinet and have warned of a backlash during elections if not heeded.

Meanwhile, former CM BS Yediyurappa told newspersons, late Thursday evening, that he will be talking to Bommai to protect the posts of the defectors who were responsible for the party coming to power. “I will talk to the CM. Those who were responsible for this government to come to power, they must be given their due positions. I am sure Bommai, too, will think about what kind of positions should be given to them, I, too, will talk to them."

Former Agriculture Minister BC Patil, who had defected from Congress in 2019, said, “We believed in BJP and BSY. So far, they have acted as they promised. Hope it’s a national party having it’s own principles. Definitely it will continue the same principles."

Former political secretary to BSY, MP Renukacharya said he had met with central leaders too with his request that at least one of the six MLAs from his district, Davangere, be considered for the Cabinet.

A bunch of seers of various religious mutts have batted for former minister KS Eshwarapa to be given a Cabinet berth. “He is eligible to be the CM but, at least, let him get a deputy CM post now," said Makhanapura mutt head Somalingeshwara Swamiji.

Former minister R Ashoka, an MLA from the dominant Vokkaliga, went to Delhi to lobby for himself as well.

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first published:July 29, 2021, 21:55 IST