Karnataka: Twenty-nine Karnataka MLAs on Wednesday took oath as ministers to join Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s cabinet. The expansion of the cabinet took place after several days of discussions and discussions between the party leadership to finalize the list.
Bommai got the new team of ministers just a week after he was sworn in as the chief minister following the resignation of his predecessor BS Yediyurappa.
Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot administered the oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers at the Raj Bhavan.
These include four former deputy chief ministers Govind Karjol, CN Ashwath Narayan, KS Eshwarappa and R Ashoka and senior leaders Govind Karjol, JC Madhuswamy and V Somanna.
Others who took oath: B Sriramulu, Murugesh Nirani, K Gopalaiah, Shashikala Jole, S Angara, Kota Srinivas Pujari, CC Patil, Prabhu Chauhan, Shivaram Hebbar, K Sudhakar, MTB Nagaraj, ST Somashekar, Anand Singh, Birthi Basavaraj, BC Patil, KC Narayana Gowda, V Sunil Kumar, Araga Gyanendra, BC Nagesh, Muniratna, Halappa Achar and Shankar Patil Munenkoppa.
The Karnataka cabinet can have a maximum of 34 ministers, and Bommai has kept five posts vacant in his first round of expansion, perhaps to accommodate disgruntled legislators later.
The BJP seems to have taken a cautious approach to cabinet expansion, with the party barring itself from going in for a total overhaul of ministers who were also part of BS Yediyurappa’s cabinet. Twenty-three of the 29 newly appointed ministers were in Yeddyurappa’s previous cabinet. Apart from this, six new faces have made it to Bommai’s team.
The central leadership of the party has also abolished the posts of deputy chief ministers, unlike the appointment of three deputy chief ministers during Yeddyurappa’s rule.
With the BJP trying to balance the caste equations, the dominant Lingayat and Vokkaliga communities got the lion’s share. There are eight Lingayats, seven Vokkaligas, seven OBCs, three Scheduled Castes and one Scheduled Tribe in the cabinet.
Talking to the media a few minutes before the swearing-in ceremony, the Chief Minister said that the party high command has formed a team keeping in mind the next assembly and local body elections. “The new cabinet has a mix of experienced hands and fresh faces. The party leadership has removed some senior ministers, who were in the earlier positions, to use their organizational skills to strengthen the party.