Ahead of the Assembly polls in Karnataka early next year, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah today inducted three new faces into his council of ministers to fill the vacant slots. At a ceremony held at Raj Bhavan, Governor Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala administered the oath of office and secrecy to H M Revanna, R B Thimmapur and Dr M C Mohan Kumari (Geetha Mahadeva Prasad). Revanna and Thimmapur, both MLCs, were inducted as cabinet rank ministers and Mohan Kumari, a first time MLA, as Minister of State with independent charge. The chief minister also effected minor changes to the portfolios of some ministers and promoted some to cabinet rank. Newly appointed ministers Revanna, Thimmapur and Mohan Kumari have been allotted the portfolios of Transport, Excise, and Sugar and Small Industries respectively. Ramalinga Reddy has been shifted from Transport to the key Home Ministry, Ramesh Jarkiholi given Cooperation and Labour Minister Santosh Lad the additional charge of Skill Development.
State ministers who have been promoted to cabinet rank include IT and BT minister Priyan Kharge, Fisheries, Youth Empowerment and Sports minister Pramod Madhwaraj, Municipal Administration minister Eshwar Khandre and Muzrai minister Rudrappa Lamani. With today’s cabinet expansion, the chief minister has filled three posts that were lying vacant following Home minister G Parameshwara’s resignation on his continuation as Congress party’s state unit chief, Excise minister H Y Meti’s exit after an alleged sex CD scandal and the death of Cooperation minister Mahadev Prasad. Hours before the swearing in, BJP’s Karnataka unit had petitioned the governor to direct appropriate authorities to disqualify Thimmapur and seven other MLCs for allegedly providing false information that they were residents of the city, so as to participate in the Mayoral polls. Of the eight MLCs whose disqualification was sought, six belonged to the Congress and two to the JDS.
Pointing out at the possibility of Thimmapur being inducted into the cabinet, Opposition BJP leader in the Assembly Jagadish Shettar had demanded that he should not be inducted as he has violated the Representation of the People Act under which he can be penalised and jailed for one year. Revanna, who belongs to the Kuruba community and Thimmapur the Dalit Left community, had served as ministers in the past. Mohan Kumari, popularly known as Geetha Mahadeva Prasad in political circles, had recently got elected from the Gundlupet constituency in the bypolls after the death of her husband H S Mahadeva Prasad, who was Cooperation minister.
This is Siddaramaiah government’s last cabinet expansion ahead of assembly elections due early next year. Looking at retaining power against an aggressive bid by the BJP to regain the government it had lost in 2013, the Congress has announced that Siddaramaiah would be its face for the polls.