Less than two years for the next assembly elections, Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah effected a major cabinet rejig in what's largely seen as an image makeover. He dropped 14 non-performing ministers and inducted 13 in the shuffle, his biggest in three years.
Portfolio allocation is expected in the next 2-3 days.Sources said the CM is planning a major rejig of all portfolios. Karnataka is the only politically important state left with the Congress, which is facing an existential crisis.The reshuffle is part of a larger strategy to gear up the party to keep the reins for a second straight term and boost workers' morale. The exercise, drastic in a sense, touched off a wave of dissidence in the party , with many parts of the state planning or observing a voluntary bandh to protest the axing of their leaders from the cabinet. Governor Vaju Vala administered the oath of office and secrecy to the nine cabinet ministers and four ministers of state with independent charge at Raj Bhavan here. An hour before the swearing-in, the CM sacked 14 ministers on grounds of ill health or inefficiency.
The new cabinet ministers are Kagodu Thimmappa, KR Ramesh Kumar, Basavaraj Rayaraddi, Tanveer Sait, SS Mallikarjun, Ramesh Jarkiholi, MR Seetharam, Santosh Lad and HY Meti. The ministers of state are Priyank Kharge, Rudrappa M Lamani, Eshwar Khandre and Pramod Madhwaraj.
Thimmappa and Kumar were assembly speakers; Priyank is the son of Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, who was present at the swearing-in. A last-minute omission from the list of new inductees was Vijayanagar MLA M Krishnappa. His name was on the list till Saturday night. Some ministers said Krishnappa had to be kept out as Bengaluru had many representations in the cabinet; others said Vokkaliga leaders expressed strong displeasure over the Vijayanagar MLA replacing heavyweight MH Ambareesh. A Congress leader said: “Also, he is facing many cases.This forced the CM to rethink.“
A surprise inductee was mining baron and Kalghatgi MLA Santosh Lad. The Ballari strongman quit the Siddaramaiah ministry in 2013 after his name allegedly figured in a mining scam. Since his name has been cleared, he was inducted into the ministry. He is likely to get the labour portfolio, held by PT Parameshwara Naik, who has been shown the door.
The CM has returned to the Ahinda template and also infused young blood into the cabinet. The caste-wise break-up of the 33-member cabinet is: OBCs 9, Lingayats 7, Vokkaligas 5, Scheduled Castes 5, Muslims 3, Brahmins 2, Scheduled Tribe and Christian one each.
The next big task for Siddaramaiah is to douse the flames of dissidence. Sacked minister V Srinivasa Prasad is expected to hold a press conference on Monday to “reveal something big“. Eight disgruntled legislators from Bengaluru have threatened to quit if Siddaramaiah fails to accommodate at least one of their three leaders: HM Revanna, ST Somashekar or M Krishnappa.