As the chief minister is set to take up a cabinet expansion to induct newly elected lawmakers from the BJP, he is likely to face the biggest challenge in the form of dissent from within the party. Four months ago when he took oath as the CM, Yediyurappa had filled 17 ministerial positions out of 34 and had kept the remaining posts vacant to fill them up later with the disqualified MLAs who would make the cut in the bypolls. Eleven of them are back in the House.
Party sources say maintaining a balance in terms of caste and region in the Cabinet is a going to be a major headache for the 76-year-old Lingayat strongman. For instance, BSY’s cabinet already has four ministers from Bengaluru city and two from Belagavi district. Four more MLAs have now been elected from the tech capital and three have won in Belagavi district. Going by Yediyurappa’s assurance to disqualified MLAs, all seven will be part of his new cabinet, which will take the number of ministers from Bengaluru to eight and Belagavi to five, at the expense of other districts.
Even in terms of caste, the Cabinet already has seven ministers from the dominant Lingayat community and three each from Vokkaliga and Scheduled Caste. With four more Lingayat MLAs winning the by-election, how the chief minister will accommodate them in the Cabinet has to be seen. Some BJP leaders also hinted at the possibility of the central leadership deciding to drop a few ministers from Yediyurappa’s existing cabinet.
“Newly elected MLAs will be expecting plum portfolios. If Yediyurappa gives away heavy portfolios, internal contradiction in the party will come to the fore. Also, it has to be seen how the frontal organisation of the BJP will perceive and respond to these developments (of giving plum portfolios to those who ideologically do not align). A lot will also depend on how effectively will the central leadership discipline the state BJP,” said political analyst Sandeep Shastri.
Political pundits insist that Yediyurappa will, besides political challenges, also face pressure on delivering election promises to voters.
“The last four months of his governance have been a lull. He will now have to plan certain programmes for the state, respond to flood victims and implement the Central government programmes which had taken a backseat all these years,” said political analyst Harish Ramaswamy.
The BJP leaders are confident the CM will sail through. “Definitely there are challenges, but since we have majority, those challenges can be handled. Situation will be handled with the support of the central leadership. Even if some forces within the party try to destabilise the government, the central leaders will not allow it to happen,” MLC Lahar Singh told ET.
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