Bangalore: As B.S. Yeddyurappa takes oath on Friday as chief minister of the first Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Karnataka, his cabinet of ministers is likely to reflect a tight balance aimed at keeping his rule secure.
There are indications that five of the six independent legislators, whose support holds the key to the BJP’s turn at power, are likely to be made ministers.
The BJP, which is three seats short of a majority in the 224-member legislative assembly, has managed to woo six independent legislators in the state, though there were indications that its rivals—the Congress party and Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S)—tried to scuttle its efforts.
Chief minister-elect of Karnataka B.S. Yeddyurappa (Photo by: Hemant Mishra/Mint)
On Tuesday, Karnataka governor Rameshwar Thakur invited Yeddyurappa to form a government after he mustered 113 seats—the number necessary to form a dispensation—with the help of five independents. The sixth independent legislator, Varthur Prakash, later announced his support for the party.
The swearing-in will be held at 1.50pm on Friday, said party spokesman S. Suresh Kumar. However, Kumar did not comment on the ministers likely to be sworn in along with the chief minister. Party members say that some 15 BJP legislators are likely to take the oath with Yeddyurappa and five independents. One of them will be from a minority community, in keeping with a pre-election promise, which did not field candidates from these communities.
Mumtaz Ali Khan, a BJP state vice-president, is likely to be the minority face in the cabinet. “That is the indication,” said Khan, 73, who is a former professor of rural sociology at the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore. “It’s not true that the BJP did not give representation to Muslims,” said Khan, explaining that he had been offered a party ticket but he refused to contest elections.
“The party also gave a ticket to Abbas Ali Bohra from Channapatna but he rejected it as he wanted Mandya constituency,” Khan said.
Hectic lobbying continues in the BJP for ministerial berths. Karnataka is allowed to have a maximum 34 ministers, including the chief minister, according to a law that limits the number of ministers to 15% of the legislators in an assembly.
The BJP had 15 ministers in its previous coalition government with JD(S), and all of them are expecting to be ministers in this cabinet as well. But several first-time MLAs such as Arvind Limbavalli and Shobha Karandlaje are also in the race. Among the legislative council members, V.S. Acharya is likely to make it to the cabinet again.
Another likely contender for the cabinet is former parliamentarian G. Karunakara Reddy, one of the three Reddy brothers who hold considerable sway in the BJP in Karnataka. Reddy, whose family runs the Obulapuram Mining Co. Pvt. Ltd, has been elected to the assembly from Harappanahalli constituency where he defeated former deputy chief minister and Congressman M.P. Prakash. His brothers G. Janardhana Reddy and G. Somashekar Reddy are members of the legislative council and assembly, respectively.
Apart from ministerial berths, the government is also likely to see keen contests among legislators to head about 78 government entities such as boards and state-run corporations.