By Fakir Balaji
Bengaluru, Aug 24 (IANS) With the Karnataka government convening an eight-day monsoon session of the state Legislature from September 21 for passing Bills and discussing major issues like the Covid pandemic and development works, there is a renewed clamour for cabinet posts as six vacancies remain to be filled.
“There is clamour in the ruling BJP for the six cabinet posts that are vacant even a year after the party came to power on July 26, 2019 and two cabinet expansions in August 2019 and February 2020,” party’s state unit spokesman G. Madhusudhana told IANS.
As the state Legislative Session has to be convened within six months of the previous session, which was in March, Assembly and Council will meet from September 21 to pass Bills and transact other government business, as it (session) got delayed due to Covid-induced lockdown and its extension.
“Cabinet formation, expansion and reshuffle of ministry are an ongoing process in any government or state. In the 34-member Ministry, though six posts have to be filled, over a dozen native and defected but re-elected legislators are vying to occupy them at the earliest,” admitted Madhusudhana.
Of the many aspirants, Congress defectors M.T.B. Nagaraj and R. Shankar, who got elected to the Council on June 22 biennial polls, and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) defector A. H.Vishwanath, who got nominated to the Council on July 22, are front runners for the cabinet posts along with eight-time BJP Legislator Umesh Katti and C.P. Yogeshwar, who was also nominated to the Council.
As 11 of the 12 defectors from the Congress and JD-S were made ministers in the February cabinet expansion after they got re-elected in the December 5 bye-elections in 15 Assembly segments, Nagaraj, Shankar and Vishwanath are waiting to join them, as they resigned from their Assembly seats in July 2019.
As Nagaraj and Vishwanath lost in the by-election from Hoskote in Bengaluru Rural district and Hunsur in Mysuru district, they were made members of the Council to reward them with a cabinet post as the other defectors have been by the ruling party and Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa.
Shankar, who too defected from the Congress and joined the BJP in November, was not given a ticket to contest in the by-election from Ranebennur in Haveri district but was assured by the ruling party of being made a Council member.
Nagaraj and Shankar were cabinet ministers in the 14-month JD-S-Congress coalition government from May 23, 2018 to July 23, 2019.
Though the Supreme Court in November upheld the disqualification of the 17 defectors by the Congress and JD-S by the former Assembly speaker (K. R.Ramesh Kumar) under the anti-defection law, it allowed them to re-contest in the Assembly by-elections.
“Resignation of the 17 defectors, including 14 from the Congress and three from the JD-S from their Assembly seats led to the fall of the coalition government after its Chief Minister H. D.Kumaraswamy lost the confidence vote in the Lower House for want of majority on July 23, 2019,” the party official recalled.
With three defectors and two native Legislators lobbying hard for the six cabinet berths, only one of the party MLAs will be able to get the remaining one post.
“Though Yediyurappa appointed 20 party MLAs as chairman of the state-run boards and corporations, which are equivalent to a cabinet post, four of them rejected as they want cabinet posts,” noted Madhusudhana.