Bengaluru: At least four allegedly disgruntled ministers — K. Sudhakar, J.C. Madhuswamy, K. Gopalaiah and M.T.B. Nagaraj — reportedly skipped the first cabinet meeting convened by Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on Thursday after effecting minor cabinet reshuffle and allocating portfolios to seven newly inducted legislators into his team.
It came as a surprise to many when Yediyuappa divested the Medical Education portfolio from Health Minister K. Sudhakar, who was elevated as the health minister with the Medical Education portfolio just three months ago on October 12. The decision to divest the Food and Civil Supplies portfolio from K. Gopalaiah, who is considered to have done a fairly decent job as minister, also surprised many.
Apart from this, rumours were doing the rounds about Madhuswamy being dropped from a crucial portfolio over his alleged ‘stubborn’ approach on certain issues.
A senior party leader told IANS that the Law Ministry is one of the crucial ministries after the finance portfolio, as every department’s proposals must get clearance from it.
“Generally, the CM choses his ‘yes man’ for this portfolio. Due to his temperamental issues, Madhuswamy might have attracted the ire of Yediyurappa or his close coterie. Therefore, it appears that he has been divested from this important portfolio,” a source said.
The source further added that cutting two high-profile ministers to size by changing their portfolios also sent a message to his rivals in the party, that the CM enjoys the full confidence of the party’s top brass.
Among the newly inducted seven ministers, at least five are indirectly expressing their dissatisfaction over the portfolios allocated to them.
Nagaraj, who has been given the plum portfolio of excise, is unhappy and has openly said that he never wanted to be the Excise Minister. Since he wants to serve the poor, he wanted a portfolio that is directly linked to them, such as housing.
“I was a Housing Minister when I resigned and joined the BJP. Now I need a similar portfolio through which I can be constantly in touch with the poor in the state,” Nagaraj said.
BJP leaders like sugar baron R. Murugesh Nirani and senior MLA from Bengaluru, Aravind Limbavali, who have been allocated portfolios like mining and forest, respectively, are also reportedly ‘unhappy’ but they have not expressed it openly.
Limbavali had been eyeing the powerful Bengaluru Development Authority or at least the urban development portfolio, while Nirani had set his eyes on the energy department. But none of these portfolios were allocated to them as the CM kept them with himself along with other important portfolios like finance, personnel department, energy and intelligence.
Yediyurappa has told the media that he will not succumb to any pressure this time as he has allocated the portfolios after giving them a careful thought.
“The ministers whom you (media) are highlighting as ‘rebelled against me’ are having discussions with me in a most cordial manner. All ministers, including Madhuswamy, will respect my decision. I am not saying there are no differences among us, but it has not reached a point where a minister or a leader can rebel against me,” the CM said in response to a question prior to attending the cabinet meeting on Thursday evening.
At present, there are 33 ministers in the cabinet, whose total strength is 34, including the Chief Minister.