New CM Bommai expands Karnataka cabinet, Yediyurappa’s son and detractors left out

Cabinet expansion under new Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai takes place Wednesday, 29 ministers appointed but no deputy CMs. Former CM Yediyurappa had 3 deputies.

Karnataka CM Basavaraj S Bommai with newly inducted ministers and Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot at Raj Bhavan, on 4 August 2021 | Twitter | @BSBommai

New Delhi: Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s attempts to include B.S. Yediyurappa’s son in the new Cabinet Wednesday may have come to nought but he has at least kept his mentor happy by leaving out the former chief minister’s known baiters.

A berth for son B.Y. Vijayendra was a near-certainty in Wednesday’s Cabinet expansion — more so since Bommai himself was batting for him — but analysts say the BJP high command was not very impressed with the former chief minister’s younger son and trusted help.

The leadership wanted a “varied future” for the party in Karnataka, not a “dynastic” one, a leader said.

Yediyurappa loyalists Renukacharya, S.R. Viswanath and H. Halappa did not find themselves in the new Cabinet either.

Bommai, however, has managed to keep out Yediyurappa’s arch rivals C.P. Yogeshwar, Arvind Bellad and B.R. Patil Yatnal from the Cabinet as a “consolation prize” for the Lingayat strongman.

Bommai expanded his Cabinet for the first time Wednesday after taking over as chief minister last week. He appointed 29 ministers but there was no deputy chief minister this time around. Yediyurappa had three.

The first Cabinet has eight Lingayat ministers, seven Vokkaligas, seven OBCs, three Dalits, two Brahmins and one Scheduled Tribe. Among them is one woman minister.

Veteran Dalit face and long-time legislator Govind Karjol, who was deputy chief minister in the last Cabinet, is in, as is former revenue minister R. Ashok.

Of Yediyurappa’s three deputies, another made it to the Cabinet — Vokkaliga leader Dr Ashwath Narayana. The third, Laxman Savadi, was dropped.

ST leader B. Sriramulu, who was lobbying to be Bommai’s deputy and who has been a popular face in the state’s fight against Covid-19, was also included. Lingayat leaders V. Somanna, Murugesh Nirani and Umesh Katti were also brought on board.

Other senior leaders dropped from the Cabinet were Jagdish Shettar, Suresh Kumar, Arvind Limbavali, R. Shanker and Srinath Patil. Shettar had hinted last week that he had no hopes for a ministerial berth.


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Why no deputy chief minister?

The BJP high command had forced upon B.S. Yediyurappa three deputy chief ministers in his last Cabinet. They were Dalit face Arvind Karjol, Vokkaliga leader Ashwath Narayana and Lingayat Laxman Savadi.

Karjol and Narayana made it to the new Bommai Cabinet.

Though Yediyurappa was displeased with three deputies, the BJP wanted to cultivate a future line of leadership and picked these men from three different castes.

Unfortunately, none of these men could be as popular as Yediyurappa and the BJP high command chose Basavaraj Bommai for the post of new chief minister.

Before taking oath, Bommai told the media that the high command was split on possible deputies, ultimately deciding to go without one.

A senior BJP leader told ThePrint that the rationale behind appointing deputy chief ministers was to find an alternative to Yediyurappa. “There is no need now as the party leadership sees Bommai as that alternative,” he said.


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No son, but no rivals either

Bommai carefully left out BJP leaders C.P. Yogeshwar, Arvind Bellad and B.R. Patil Yatnal who complained to the high command about the former chief minister.

Yogeshwar has continuously belittled Yediyurappa’s leadership. Though Bellad had youth and a clean image on his side, he fell foul of Yediyurappa by going against him.

As for not including son Vijayendra, a BJP leader said: “J.P. Nadda and state in-charge Arun Singh had consulted Yediyurappa on the new Cabinet. He had spoken for his son, but the BJP leadership did not wish to risk a family power centre. Though Bommai was in favour, Amit Shah was not. But they have kept Yediyurappa in good humour by dropping the other three.”

The leader did not rule out a position for Vijayendra in future Cabinet expansions.


Also read: BJP says it doesn’t believe in dynastic politics, but its list of dynast leaders is ever-growing