BS Yediyurappa has sought to reach out to the sulking MLAs, specifically eight-time Hukkeri MLA Umesh Katti, whom several legislators who could not make it to the Ministry reportedly met.
A day after the expansion of the Karnataka cabinet with the induction of 17 Ministers, discontent among those who failed to secure Ministerial berths refused to die down on Wednesday, even as Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa made attempts to douse the embers. As the expansion brought an end to the nearly month long wait for the cabinet to take shape, it led to some heartburn in a section of the party as several MLAs continued to make no secret of their displeasure after missing the bus.
Yediyurappa has sought to reach out to the sulking MLAs, specifically eight-time Hukkeri MLA Umesh Katti, whom several legislators who could not make it to the Ministry reportedly met. “For one hour yesterday I have spoken to him (Katti) in the presence of Basavaraj Bommai (Minister). Naturally he is pained at not getting an opportunity. I will try to find a remedy,” Yediyurappa told reporters in Tumakuru.
On discontent expressed by Honnali MLA M P Renukacharya about a former legislator Laxman Savadi, who is neither a member of the Assembly nor the Council, being made the Minister, sidelining several sitting MLAs, he said “I will call Renukacharya and friends and talk to them.” On his part Katti said he is not discontended and no other disgruntled legislators were with him. He told reporters that he met Yediyurappa and that he cannot reveal internal matters of the party to the media.
“I met him, he is my leader. I asked him why I was not made Minister. He told what he has to. I also told him what I had to…I have no discontent, I’m a responsible BJP legislator,” he said. Rubbishing reports that he and some other MLAs had met former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and were looking at the JD(S) as an option, he said, “If I’m made Minister I will work, if not as a legislator I will work…even this time I had put my efforts to become Minister. …there are 224 MLAs in the state, among them only 34 can become Minister, if I don’t have luck, what can I do?” Renukacharya said he had never lobbied for a Minister’s post, but was unhappy about those who have lost elections being made minister, referring to Savadi.
“I have discontent not regarding Yediyurappa or BJP…I have discontent because those who have lost elections have become Minister. I’m not asking for myself, but for others, sitting MLAs could have been made Minister,” he said. Questioning why a senior MLA like Umesh Katti was not made a Minister, Renukacharya however said he would never go against the party or Yediyurappa and “will not go knocking at the doors of other party leaders.”
“False information is being spread against me…if my self esteem is hurt, I will resign immediately, but will not go knocking at other’s doors.” More than three weeks after he was sworn in as Chief Minister, Yediyurappa on Tuesday had expanded his ministry by inducting 17 ministers into his Cabinet. Several other BJP MLAs like Ramappa Lamani of Shiragatti, Neharu Olekar of Haveri and Raju Gowda of Shorapur have also expressed disappointment over being left out in the expansion on Wednesday.
Many other aspirants who missed out,including Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, C M Udasi and Raju Gowda met Yediyurappa. According to sources, the Chief Minister is said to have pointed out that it was the central leadership which finalized the names to be included in the Cabinet. While trying to convince senior legislators like Katti and Yatnal that they may be considered in the next phase, he told them that the larger share was given to Lingayats in the first phase, and including more members from the community would send a wrong message.
In the 18 member Ministry, including the Chief Minister, Lingayats strength is eight. Accepting that some party leaders are miffed after the cabinet expansion, senior minister K S Eshwarappa said “small issues” are common in a family. “BJP is like a family and all of us are brothers. We will discuss with them and resolve the issue,” he said.
Speaking to reporters in Hubballi, he said “we will also have to give some berths to several legislators (disqualified MLAs) who have come from Congress and JD(S). So keeping aside some berths, BJP legislators have been made ministers.” Karnataka can have a maximum of 34 Ministers, including the Chief Minister. With this “limited” expansion, 16 cabinet berths are vacant, leaving space for some of the disqualified former Congress and JDS MLAs, who helped bring down the coalition government headed by Kumaraswamy to get on board.
Meanwhile, a few disqualified MLAs, including Ramesh Jarkiholi, Mahesh Kumatahalli, S T Somashekar, Byrati Basavaraj left for Delhi on Wednesday, amid reports that they had expressed keenness to meet BJP’s central leadership on their political future. However, K Sudhakar, one of the disqualified MLAs clarified that they were going to Delhi to meet the lawyers representing them in the Supreme Court, where their plea challenging the disqualification is pending. But speculations are rife that they may make attempts to meet some top BJP leaders, with BJP leader C P Yogeshwar accompanying them to Delhi.