Governor of Karnataka Vajubhai Vala and Chief Minister of Karnataka B.S. Yediyurappa with newly inducted ministers during the swearing ceremony at Raj Bhavan in Bengaluru (Photo: ANI)
Governor of Karnataka Vajubhai Vala and Chief Minister of Karnataka B.S. Yediyurappa with newly inducted ministers during the swearing ceremony at Raj Bhavan in Bengaluru (Photo: ANI)

Putting a lid on dissent first of Yediyurappa’s many challenges

  • Karnataka CM has to contain the simmering dissent emanating from the allocation of cabinet berths
  • Many in BJP fear that 12 of the 16 vacant berths could be reserved for JD(S) and Congress rebels

Bengaluru: The dissent within a section of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) Karnataka unit after being left out of the cabinet, could be the first among several challenges before the B.S. Yediyurappa-led state government, said party leaders and political analysts.

Yediyurappa, who had wrested power from the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), coalition by allegedly engineering defections, will now have to contain the simmering dissent within his own ranks, something that he had not dealt with very tactfully in the past. Else, his government will face the same fate as that of the coalition.

“The problems for the government is from within," said Narendar Pani, political analyst and faculty at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS).

As such, former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s parting speech in the assembly, wherein he said that the BJP’s troubles will begin with the cabinet formation, now almost sounds prophetic.

There are 16 vacancies to be filled in the cabinet with 17 ministers being inducted on Tuesday.

The present Karnataka cabinet includes an independent, H. Nagesh, and an unelected member, Laxman Savadi, besides 15 BJP legislators. Many within the BJP fear that 12 of the 16 vacant berths could be reserved for the rebel Congress and JD(S) candidates, a senior BJP leader said, requesting anonymity.

The resignation of at least 17 Congress and JD(S) members since 1 July had helped the BJP topple the Kumaraswamy-led government. Now, several of these members are likely to be accommodated at the cost of some BJP leaders, said analysts.

“This kind of dissent is exactly what broke the Congress," said Harish Ramaswamy, political analyst and faculty at the Karnatak University in Dharwad. If the concerns of the dissenting legislatures, who are driven more by vested interests than an ideological bonding, are not addressed, it could snowball into a bigger problem for the BJP.

The BJP also stares at the possibility of dissent from regional chieftains. The party’s decision to pick Savadi over Balachandra Jarkiholi to lower the dominance of the powerful sugar barons of Belagavi who have had at least one representative in all cabinets since 2005, could cause problems for the party.

Out of the five brothers, Balachandra is with the BJP, Satish with the Congress and Ramesh has been disqualified.

Ramesh, the biggest troublemaker for the Congress since last December, is likely to be accommodated in Yediyurappa’s cabinet if the Supreme Court overturns his disqualification and he manages to win the Gokak bypolls against Lakhan Jarkiholi of the Congress.

BJP president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are expected to continue monitoring the developments in Karnataka closely to ensure a corruption-free government and to keep Yediyurappa on a tight leash. The appointment of Nalin Kumar Kateel on Tuesday as the new president of the party’s state unit is said to be one step in that direction. The firebrand three-time member of parliament from the polarised Dakshina Kannada district is likely to be the central leadership’s representative and may not toe the line of Yediyurappa. It would also be interesting to see how Yediyurappa reacts to the BJP high command’s iron grip, as he is averse to any interference, more so as he is the most influential member of state BJP. His exit from the party in 2012 had reduced the BJP from 110 seats in 2008 to 40 in 2013.

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