Bengaluru: For the first time in a decade, Karnataka has clinched the highest number of cabinet berths with the induction of three Lok Sabha MPs and a Rajya Sabha Member on Wednesday.
Karnataka BJP leader D.V. Sadanada Gowda, however, was one of the 12 ministers who resigned just hours before the reshuffle was carried out.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, reposing faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, Karnataka had sent 25 BJP MPs to the Lok Sabha and one member supported by the BJP, leaving the Congress and JD(S) with just one seat each.
With the three Lok Sabha members from Karnataka sworn in on Wednesday, the number of them getting ministerial berths is now four, including the incumbent Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Prahalad Joshi.
Rajya Sabha MPs from the state, too, have got a decent representation in the Union Ministry, with serial entrepreneur-turned- politician Rajeev Chandrasekhar being sworn in as minister. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman represents the state in the Rajya Sabha.
According to a BJP insider in Karnataka, the party has certainly focused on getting its caste and regional matrix right, for the state will be facing the Assembly elections in 2023, followed by the Lok Sabha polls in 2024. The source added that the ruling BJP has also picked up relatively younger faces, as all the new inductees are below 60.
Highlighting the caste and regional arithmetic at play, the source said Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa’s close aide and Udupi-Chikkmagluru MP, Shobha Karandlaje, is a Vokkaliga and represents the coastal region, which traditionally sends the maximum number of MLAs from the BJP.
Four-time MLA and Chitradurga Lok Sabha Member A. Narayanswamy is a Dalit and Bidar MP Bhagavant Khuba is a Lingayat from the Central Karnataka / Hyderabad-Karnataka region. Joshi, the incumbent minister is a Brahmin and represents the Mumbai-Karantaka region of the state.
The source added that Narayanswami, who was elected from Chitradurga, originally is from Bengaluru Rural. He was, in fact, a four-term MLA from the Anekal constituency, which is on the outskirts of Bengaluru. So, even the Bengaluru region got representation in the ministry.
Ahead of the crucial Assembly elections, getting the caste matrix right is very important. Also, the party insider pointed out, with loyalists being rewarded, it would be easier for the BJP to ‘convince’ the voters that it still respects loyalty, especially because Yediyurappa accommodated Congress and JD-S rebels in his cabinet.