The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has directed all its legislators to be present in Bengaluru on Tuesday as it is yet to reveal the names of those who will be inducted into the B.S. Yediyurappa’s cabinet.
The cabinet expansion is scheduled for 10.30am on Tuesday.
The suspense indicates that the national leadership continues to keep its state unit completely out of the process and signals the increasing control over the affairs of the BJP’s state unit by the central leadership of the party.
“We have no say. Everything will come from the top (Delhi)," said one BJP legislator, asking not to be named. Five other senior party members echoed this sentiment as they continued to wait for the final list.
The BJP had not even released the names of the probable ministers till the time of filing of this report.
The suspense has led party members to believe that there would be radical changes in cabinet formation, offering no room for assumptions or guarantees under Amit Shah, the party’s national president and Union home minister. The cabinet expansion in Karnataka is reminiscent of how Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet was announced in May, with last minute phone calls intimating members of their induction.
Shah has tightened his grip on the affairs in Karnataka and has forced Yediyurappa not to just wait to stake claim to form the government in July but to also wait almost a month for the formation of the cabinet.
The decision not to leave such matters to the state unit is possibly a mechanism to insulate the party from any lobbying for posts or dissent within its ranks that would force a repeat its own past mistakes or that of the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) coalition government led by H.D. Kumaraswamy.
The decision to go in for a limited expansion would give it room to accommodate at least some of the disqualified legislators who helped topple the Kumaraswamy government.
The party is trying to balance age groups by accommodating youngsters and is also trying to provide adequate representation for caste groups other than just Lingayats to help diversify its support base to include Vokkaligas and marginalized classes.
The BJP is also yet to name a candidate to take over as the party’s state president from Yediyurappa.
The candidate will be tasked with the BJP’s larger plans to use Karnataka as its base to penetrate deeper into south Indian states such as Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
The national leadership is also mindful in not giving too much leeway to Yediyurappa, a Lingayat strongman who has held the party to ransom in the past over differences that eventually led to the collapse of the first BJP government in the south and took the party almost a decade to recover.
The BJP now has the herculean task to change public perception after its disastrous term from 2008-13, fraught with factionalism, corruption scandals, resort politics, and the spectacle of three chief ministers taking turns to rule the state.
Yediyurappa also has his hands full as he takes over at a time when more than half the state has been badly hit by floods that have left a trail of destruction that would take years to recover from. He would have the difficult task of bringing in funds from the Centre, which is perceived as miserly in its grants towards Karnataka.