Karnataka cabinet expanded, Reddy brothers out

Dethroned former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa proved that he still calls the shots and can influence the BJP central leadership, when the deputy CM's post and inclusion of Reddy brothers--- a demand by the Jagadish Shettar camp--- was vetoed by the party's top brass in the first cabinet expansion of Sadananda Gowda ministry on Monday.

Gowda, who took oath as CM on August 4 inducted 21 ministers into his cabinet. Of these, 12 were from Yeddyurappa and 9 from Shettar camps. There are 12 more vacancies in the total 34-member ministry. It is virtually a comeback of all ministers in the Yeddyurappa cabinet with some exceptions. The CM said the ministers will continue with the same portfolios they held in the previous cabinet.

Governor H R Bhardwaj administered the oath of office and secrecy to the ministers in batches of five on the lawns of Raj Bhavan at 5.30 pm.

With both camps haggling for the last four days over portfolios sharing and Shettar demanding two deputy CM's posts, it appeared the stalemate would continue for some more days. Talks had been inconclusive on Sunday night after BJP Karnataka in-charge general secretary Dharmendra Pradhan flew into Bangalore, post discussions with party's national president Nitin Gadkari in Mumbai.

According to BJP sources, the Yeddyurappa camp is reported to have been blunt with the Shettar camp that it would go ahead with the cabinet expansion, if, he continued to be intransigient on his demands. There was also speculation that the prolonged talks and bargaining may not go down well with the governor.

By 2 pm, the uncertainty cleared. The party's central leadership was firm that there will no deputy CM or tainted ministers from the Yeddyurappa cabinet. Yeddyurappa ensured that the Bellary trio----G JanardhanReddy, G Karunakara Reddy, G Somashekar Reddy and confidante B Sriramulu--- who tormented him during his tenure were kept out with the Lokayukta report on illegal mining coming in handy. But the same yardstick of keeping former ministers indicted in the Lokyukta report was not applied to Yeddyurappa's staunch follower V Somanna, who made it to the cabinet.

Party sources said Gowda sought legal opinion before taking in Somanna. The opinion was the Lokayukta report has named Somanna's son being involved in illegal mining and not him directly.

Former minister Balachandra Jarkiholi, who had revolted against Yeddyurappa, resulting in his disqualification as MLA, which the Supreme court restored early this year, staged a flash dharna with five-six MLAs outside Shettar's house demanding his induction into the cabinet. He was placated by the CM, who stays next door to Shettar with a promise that in the second round of expansion, which Gowda said would be sometime next week their grievances would be redressed.

After the oath-taking, Gowda had the conventional cabinet meeting with his new colleagues. Speaking to the media the CM said: I got elephantine strength with ministers joining the cabinet.'' He is scheduled to go to New Delhi on Tuesday.


V S Acharya, Murugesh R Nirani, Shobha Karandlaje, Basavaraj Bommai, Umesh V Katti, V Somanna, C M Udasi, M P Renukacharya, Laxman Savadi, C C Patil, J Krishna Palemar, and Revunaik Belmagi.

Jagadish Shettar, Govind M Karjol, R Ashoka, S Suresh Kumar, S A Ramdas, B N Bachche Gowda, Visveshwar Hegde Kageri, A Narayanaswamy and S A Ravindranath.

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