Bengaluru: The Congress in Karnataka, which came to power following a shift of votes of Dalits and oppressed classes from the BJP, has not only given more number of Cabinet berths to these sections, but has also ensured that they got plum and respectable posts.
The major Cabinet berths held by the dominant Lingayat and Vokkaliga communities in the previous BJP government have been allotted to leaders hailing from the Dalit community and the oppressed classes.
The Muslim community, which had gone unrepresented in the previous BJP regime, has also been allotted two Cabinet posts held by dominant castes in the previous regime.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who takes special care for the empowerment of Dalits, both financially and socially, has ensured that the exploited classes, especially the Dalits, get their due.
In his previous term as the Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah had introduced reservation in government contracts of up to Rs 50 lakh for Dalits for the first time. The BJP had raised the cap to Rs 1 crore ahead of the elections.
Senior Dalit leader R.B. Thimmapur has been allotted the most sought after Excise Department earlier held by K. Gopalaiah belonging to the Vokkaliga community in the previous BJP government. G. Parameshwara, a prominent Dalit leader, has been entrusted with the Home Department.
Though sources said that Parameshwara is not happy with the portfolio, the Congress has managed to pass on the message to the masses by making a senior Dalit leader the Home Minister.
Previously, the post was held by Araga Jnanendra belonging to the Vokkaliga community.
The right-hand man of Siddaramaiah, H.C. Mahadevappa, has been given the Social Welfare portfolio earlier held by Kota Srinivas Poojari belonging to the Billava community, considered as OBC but does not face the stigma of untouchability.
Former Union minister and senior Congressman K.H. Muniyappa has been allotted the Food and Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs department. The portfolio has assumed importance as the Anna Bhagya scheme, which ensures 10 kg rice to every member of BPL families, will be implemented through the department.
Late Umesh Katti from the Lingayat community held the portfolio in the previous BJP government.
Mass leader of the oppressed classes, Satish Jarkiholi, has been allotted the much sought after Public Works ministry, which was held by C.C. Patil belonging to the Lingayat community during the BJP rule.
Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge’s son Priyank Kharge has been allotted the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj portfolio that was previously held by K.S. Eshwarappa belonging to the Kuruba community.
Shivaraj Tangadagi, a Dalit leader from north Karnataka, is given the Backward Class, Kannada and Culture Ministry. In the previous BJP government, the portfolio was held by V. Sunil Kumar belonging to the Billava community, a dominant caste in the coastal Karnataka region.
K.N. Rajanna, a prominent leader of the ST community who successfully challenged former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda’s family and ensured his defeat in the 2019 Parliamentary elections, has been given Cooperation including Agricultural Marketing earlier held by S.T. Somashekar belonging to the Vokkaliga community.
B. Nagendra, an emerging leader from the ST community who defeated prominent BJP leader Sriramulu, has been allotted Youth Services, Sports with ST Welfare. K.C. Narayana Gowda held the Sports and Youth Services portfolio in the previous BJP government, belonging to the Vokkaliga community.
B.Z. Zameer Ahmad Khan will look after Housing, Wakf and Minority Welfare portfolios. While the Housing Ministry was previously held by senior Lingayat leader V. Somanna, The Wakf ministry was held by Shashikala Jolle, a senior Lingayat leader from north Karnataka.
Rahim Khan has been entrusted with the Ministry of Municipal Administration and Haj. M.T.B. Nagaraj from the Kuruba community held the post in the previous government.
Lingayats have been given seven portfolios while Vokkaligas have been allotted five Cabinet berths, including D.K. Shivakumar as the Deputy Chief Minister. Most of the regions in Karnataka are represented in the Cabinet.